Based on the Dutch Public Access to Government Information Act (Wet openbaarheid van bestuur, WOB), The Investigative Desk unearthed 1362 pages of documents about contacts between the municipal authorities of Bergen op Zoom and tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris, which has a large plant in that town. The documents show that the municipality did not comply with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which calls for transparency and a certain distance in governmental contacts with the tobacco industry.
Following the publication of our story, the municipality promised to be more transparent. However, it did not act accordingly. The municipal council decided not to change the code of conduct. The municipal website still does not publish all official contacts with Philip Morris – as it should according to the FCTC treaty. A spokesman for the local government told The Investigative Desk that no such contacts had taken place anymore. We found evidence this was not the case.
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