Tobacco industry interference: another “case study” in Spain?

 In ICO-WHO, Mass media

One year ago, WHO’s “World No-Tobacco Day” was devoted to the tobacco industry interference with tobacco control. Although the tobacco industry has partially changed its main focus of action from Europe to other regions of the globe, nowadays in Europe we are suffering a huge tobacco industry activity due to the discussion of the revision of the European Commission Tobacco Products Directive.

We are tackling a new  case of clear, public, unethical tobacco industry interference. Altadis (owned by Imperial Tobacco), the main manufacturer of tobacco cigarettes in Spain, has launched a campaign addressed to the Spanish political class and Nation’s government to oppose the European tobacco products directive.

This campaign includes tobacco industry allies, now rounded in the so-called “Table of Tobacco” which includes some organizations from the hospitality industry, tobacco producers, tobacconists and also the vending machines sector. The manoeuvres were directed at the regional level, mainly through the Finance Commissions of the regional parliaments, with the result that the presidents of five Spanish regions (Cantabria, Canary Islands, Extremadura, La Rioja, and Navarra) are now campaigning against the tobacco products directive, trying to influence in the Nation’s government. These regions are opposing the Directive because of varied economic interests: Cantabria hosts the biggest Altadis factory in Spain, Extremadura is the main tobacco grower in Spain, which is also cultivated or transformed in the Canary Islands (mainly cigars), La Rioja, and Navarra.

The President of Cantabria has called for a meeting of the “Table of Tobacco” with presidents of these regions and other pro-tobacco actors next May 17 with the aim of launching a political declaration against the Tobacco Products Directive. Where? The meeting will take place at the factory of Altadis in Cantabria! And Altadis has already akcnowledged the presidents initiative!

Scandal is the best word to describe this situation. Together with the actions started by the National Committee for Tobacco Prevention (the coalition of scientific societies, NGOs, consumers’ and citizen’s organizations), members of the regional parliaments and tobacco control scientists and advocates have denounced the manoeuvering of the tobacco industry.

Esteve Fernández. Tobacco Control Unit. ICO

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