AN INTERNATIONAL anti-tobacco group slammed tobacco giant Philip Morris for “mis–leading governments and the public about its role in tackling the tobacco smuggling problem.”
The Thailand-based Southeast Asian Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) said in a statement that “the tobacco industry is part of the problem and cannot be part of the solution. Consequently, it should not interfere or influence regulators in their job to address illicit tobacco trade.”
SEATCA was reacting to the recent statement of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) in Manila that “there exists a meaningful and transparent cooperation between government and tobacco manufacturers to address the illegal cigarette trade.”
PMFTC had earlier proposed third party monitoring of tobacco companies in the Philippines based on the findings of a study conducted by the US-based International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) and the UK-based Oxford Economics that there was illicit tobacco trade in the country
SEATCA rejected the study and questioned the methodology used by the groups and exposed Philip Morris International (PMI) as having funded the study.
“It is important to point out the nature of some of the cooperation that PMFTC refers to. For example, Philip Morris’s collaboration with the European Union (EU) is the result of a 2004 legally binding out-of-court settlement by PMI after it was sued by the EU for its involvement in tobacco smuggling,” SEATCA said.