The tobacco Industry Documents: What do they tell us about the industry in Brazil?

 

Complete document
(62 pages, PDF, 1,500 KB)

 

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Document Cover (2.01 MB) 

 

 

Executive Summary
(5 pages, PDF, 42 KB)

 

Resumen Ejecutivo
(6 pages, PDF, 46 KB)

 

Sumário
(5 pages, PDF, 44 KB)

 

 

Presentation of Dr. Stella Aguinaga Bialous (portuguese)

The tobacco Industry Documents: 
What do they tell us about the industry in Brazil?

Executive Summary

  • This report builds on a previously published Pan American Health Organization report and presents preliminary results of a multi-phase project to map out the roles of the tobacco industry and the tobacco control movement in Brazil.
     

  • This initial phase was developed to document the strategies and operations of the tobacco industry in Brazil as they can be determined from the tobacco industry documents publicly available after the settlement of legal cases of 46 states and territories of the United States with US-based tobacco companies.
     

  • Brazil is an important tobacco market: its large, young, population appeals to tobacco companies searching to expand and the country has a large tobacco growing, manufacturing and exporting business.
     

  • Despite the role of tobacco in the Brazilian economy, Brazil has been a world leader in implementing a regulatory framework in which the tobacco industry must operate.  Overall adult smoking prevalence seems to be in decline, but youth smoking remains high in certain areas of the country.
     

  • The main cigarette companies operating in the country are Souza Cruz, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, with an approximately 75% share of market; and Philip Morris Brazil, part of Philip Morris International, with approximately 15% of the market.
     

  • Preliminary results show a few themes that appear to be of high level concern for tobacco companies: regulation, litigation and public acceptance of smoking.  Tobacco companies always seem to anticipate and prepare for tobacco control measures, using arguments that are similar to those used by tobacco companies worldwide: cigarettes are legal, adults have a choice, smokers and non-smokers can share the same environment.
     

  • It is apparent that the creation of the National Surveillance Agency (known by its Brazilian acronym, Anvisa), generated a high level of activity as tobacco companies tried to developed the best strategies to operate in an increasingly regulated environment.
     

  • For decades, the tobacco companies have been denying the health risk of exposure to tobacco smoke, and funding scientists and consultants to question the overwhelming scientific evidence showing that second hand smoke is toxic.
     

  • In addition to consultants and scientists, the tobacco companies have engaged in a campaign to promote “courtesy” and “harmony”, in partnership with hospitality associations.  The intent has been to convince the public and policymakers that there is no need to strengthen legislation promoting clean indoor air, that these voluntary accommodation strategies, which have no public health benefit, would suffice.
     

  • Product liability litigation developments in Brazil have seemed to be a matter managed both locally and at headquarters.  Luminaries of the legal community were often hired by the companies to assist in the development of their defense.  There are indications that, in some cases, Souza Cruz and Philip Morris developed joint strategies to ensure that litigation in Brazil remained unsuccessful to the plaintiff. The class action brought by Adesf (Association for the Defense of Smokers’ Health) on behalf of smokers seems to have been of particular concern to the companies.
     

  • The industry courted the media through the promotion of special events and workshops in order to tell journalists their side of the “controversy” (when no controversy exists about the harmful effects of tobacco).
     

  • The International Tobacco Growers’ Association in Brazil, i.e. the Brazilian Tobacco Growers’ Association (Afubra), seemed to be a significant partner in the tobacco companies’ policy and legislative efforts.  This was particularly significant during discussions for the ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
     

  • Partly in response to the increasingly restrictive regulatory environment, tobacco companies engaged more and more in “corporate social responsibility” efforts in order to promote a positive public perception of the industry and to avoid additional regulations.

Recommendations

  • Develop and disseminate the additional phases of this project, updating the searches of the industry documents and triangulating the information with archival data (both from media outlets and other available sources) as well as conducting interviews with key players.  A final product will then offer an overview of the multiple stakeholders in the tobacco control movement in Brazil and offer suggestions for future developments.
     

  • Tobacco control policy needs to continue to be based on scientific evidence and focus particularly on the areas that the companies see as the bigger threats to their profits: regulation, marketing restrictions, and smoke-free environments
     

  • Within the context of comprehensive tobacco control and implementation of the WHO FCTC, Anvisa needs to continue and strengthen its tobacco regulatory efforts in order to maximize the translation of the benefits of its actions into better health for the population.
     

  • When pursuing litigation, Brazilian lawyers need to be educated and aware of the existing public tobacco company internal documents, as well overseas judges’ opinions, in order to more effectively counter the industry’s strategies in the denial of liability.  Adesf’s arguments and judgment, as well as the industry’s reaction to the case, could be publicized more widely.
     

  • It is essential that, in the debate to promote smoke free environment, public, advocates and policy makers be educated about the decades-long campaign the tobacco companies have waged to thwart efforts to promote clean indoor air policies.  There is no controversy over the scientific evidence affirming that exposure to tobacco smoke is a serious and deadly health hazard.
     

  • Further, policy makers, the public and advocates need to be prepared to counter the claims of tobacco companies and their front groups in the hospitality industry, who all argue that accommodation of smokers and non-smokers in the same environment is a safe alternative.  Tobacco smoke can not be safely removed through existing ventilation technology.  Furthermore, it is important to be cognizant that experience has shown that smoke-free environments are enforceable and good for businesses.
     

  • Last, but not least, governmental and non-governmental agencies, as well as academia, should refrain from supporting or partnering with industry-sponsored programs that are developed under the guise of Corporate Social Responsibility.  These educational and philanthropic programs were creates with the ultimate intent of preventing additional regulation of the tobacco business.