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latest news > news in brief >  Hidden Scale of BAT’s Deathly Cigarette Lobby in EU

Hidden Scale of BAT’s Deathly Cigarette Lobby in EU

3 June 2009

Corporate Europe Observatory Press Release

One of the world’s largest cigarette companies spent more than €700,000 lobbying the EU last year, up to four times as much as the company declared on the EU’s register of interest representatives, new research by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has revealed [1].

The revelations come as the tobacco industry fights to retain its influence within the EU after a World Health Organisation agreement on preventing the influence of vested interests from the tobacco industry in policy making [2].

The CEO research found that British American Tobacco (BAT) failed to register contributions made to a number of industry lobbying groups, including the Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers, the European Smoking Tobacco Association and the European Smokeless Tobacco Council — the main bodies which lobby on behalf of the tobacco industry in the EU.

CEO is submitting formal complaints to the European Commission regarding BAT’s submission to the register, which it says effectively exploits clear loopholes in the voluntary system.

CEO spokesman Olivier Hoedeman said:

“BAT has clearly minimised the size of its lobbying budget in its entry in the EU register, effectively exploiting loopholes in the system to downplay the size of its lobbying operation in Brussels. It is perhaps not surprising that a company which manufactures a product that effectively kills the people who use it might want to downplay its attempts to influence policy, but it is clearly in the public interest that the scale of its operations should be known.”

BAT told CEO it had not registered the sums involved to avoid double counting. But CEO discovered that the lobbying organisations involved also failed to declare the sums received from BAT, highlighting a key flaw in the current EU register.

CEO is also lodging a formal complaint about BXL Consulting’s submission to the register, after BXL director and former Health commissioner Pavel Telička organised “dialogues” with Commission representatives on behalf of BAT under the auspices of BAT’s corporate social responsibility programme. These dialogues provided BAT with a clear opportunity to lobby, according to CEO’s research, yet the funding for them was not declared by BXL.

The report argues that BAT has invested heavily in its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme to provide it with a legitimate voice in the eyes of policy makers. While not traditionally seen as lobbying, such activities are clearly intended to influence the policy debate, the report argues.

Olivier Hoedeman continued:

“The current lobbying register is quite clearly riddled with loopholes, allowing companies to select what information they declare. Such a system clearly makes a nonsense of transparency and must be reformed. The lobbying register must be made compulsory and lobbyists must be given clear rules on what should be disclosed so that the public can know what is going on.”

Contact: Olivier Hoedeman + 32 4 7448 6545

[1] Obscured by the Smoke - British American Tobacco’s deathly lobbying agenda in the EU, Corporate Europe Observatory, June 2009, see:

[2] Article 5.3 of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), due to be implemented in the EU, specifies that when Parties are setting and implementing public health policies related to tobacco control, they shall “act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law”. See:

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