Summer 2022 – ASH staff was fortunate enough to be accepted to participate in an extensive research course called “Tobacco Industry Monitoring, Research and Accountability” hosted by our partners at the Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) through the University of Bath, England. The team at TCRG are experts in investigative research on the tobacco industry, tobacco industry interference and the methods the tobacco industry uses to undermine public health. They host a wealth of information and offer advocates and other stakeholder’s opportunities to share their stories and information to further highlight the egregious actions of the deadly tobacco industry.
As we often say at ASH, and as many of our allies’ echo, the most effective strategy for reducing tobacco use is through public health policy, but the greatest barrier to enacting effective public health policy is tobacco industry interference. For this reason, courses like this are crucial to educate advocates on the methods and tools they need to conduct their own research and protect themselves from an industry that has endless funds to litigate and back their threats.
In addition to the many research tools and methods included in the course, ample time was spent learning from our fellow participants who shared their stories and experiences in the field. Representatives from all over the globe participated in the course and ASH was able to contribute our experience with litigation against the FDA as well as the uphill battle in the U.S. with menthol where state and local regulations have run the risk of tobacco industry interference.
ASH also highlighted the work that has been done to collect tobacco industry interference data for both the STOP Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index and our annual U.S. Tobacco Industry Interference Index. This work and the work done by TCRG and partners around the world emphasizes the need to call attention to tobacco industry efforts, that there are mechanisms that the tobacco control community can utilize within their work to counter their methods, and that the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) guidelines are a great starting point.
ASH will use these newfound tools to continue to call attention to tobacco industry interference tactics and highlight the guiding principles that the WHO FCTC recommends to mitigate, minimize and eliminate tobacco industry interference in public health policy.