Tobacco industry interference with tobacco control policies in Poland: legal aspects and industry practices

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Abstract

Background

Since 2006, when Poland ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), there have been efforts to improve tobacco control regulation in the country. At the same time, at the European Union level, Poland took part in discussions over revision of the Tobacco Tax Directive and the Tobacco Products Directive. This study aims to explore the tobacco industry's tactics to interfere with the creation of those policies.

Methods

Analysis of 257 documents obtained through freedom of information request.

Results

We identified three means that the tobacco industry used to interfere with tobacco control policies: creating a positive attitude, expressing a will to be a part of the policymaking process, and exerting pressure. We found that those tactics have often been used unethically, with the industry providing the government with ready legislation proposals, overstating its contribution to the economy and the government revenues, misrepresenting the illicit cigarette problem and misusing scientific evidence. The industry also used legal threats, including use of bilateral trade agreements, against implementation of tobacco control measures. The companies lobbied together directly and through third parties, with the cigarette excise tax structure being the only area of disagreement among the companies. The industry also pushed the Polish government to challenge tobacco control policies in countries with stronger public policy standards, including UK display bans and the Australian plain-packaging law.

Conclusions

From an object of regulation, the tobacco industry in Poland became a partner with the government in legislative work. Implementation of provisions of Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC could prevent further industry interference.

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