- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2017

Cigarette giant Philip Morris International is secretly working to subvert a global agreement to curb smoking worldwide, Reuters claimed in an investigative piece published Thursday.

The news wire said it had obtained confidential company memos that “reveal an offensive that stretches from the Americas to Africa to Asia, from hardscrabble tobacco fields to the halls of political power, in what may be one of the broadest corporate lobbying efforts in existence.”

At issue is the tobacco giant’s internal strategy for addressing implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, or FCTC. Reuters claims the documents prove a concerted “secretive campaign to block or weaken treaty provisions that save millions of lives by curbing tobacco use.”

Among other findings, Reuters determined that Philip Morris worked closely with about 14 countries, to add delegates to add members to treaty delegates who did not hail from the public-health sector. The company found particular success working Vietnamese authorities in a 2014 treaty convention work session held in Russia, Reuters said.

“The Vietnamese delegation spoke up often during the Moscow meeting,” Reuters reported. “A review of notes compiled by tobacco-control groups accredited as observers showed Vietnam’s interjections frequently mirrored Philip Morris‘ positions on tobacco-control regulations.”

The Vietnamese government declined comment on the allegations, Reuters said.

The Reuters exposé comes days after it was revealed an Australian court dealt Philip Morris a blow earlier this year by requiring it to cough up millions to compensate the Australian government for its costs in a lawsuit over cigarette-packaging regulations.

In 2012, Australia enacted legislation requiring cigarette packaging to contain grotesque pictures of the damaging health effects possible from cigarette addiction, Reuters reported.

“The exact sum was redacted from the international Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) decision, but the Sydney Morning Herald reported it was as high as A$50m (£30m; $38m),” Reuters reported Sunday, noting that the decision itself was handed down in March.

A similar lawsuit by the tobacco industry against the British government failed in May 2016, with Philip Morris vowing to not join any further appeals of the High Court’s decision in favor of the U.K.’s plain-packaging requirement for cigarettes, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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