Illustration by Matthias Leuhof
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Marlboro producer outsmarts its competition (and politicians)

Tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris conducts a sophisticated lobby in the Netherlands, using a meticulous international step-by-step plan. Yet it still manages to make a profit, to escape regulation and to maintain its competitive edge. The Investigative Desk analysed leaked internal documents and obscured government documents to gain insight into the workings of one of the world’s most sophisticated lobby machines.

By playing the political game and forging a coalition with powerful friends such as employers’ organization VNO-NCW and the largest political party of the Netherlands, the VVD, Philip Morris manages to avoid, weaken or delay regulation.

At the same time the company provides ‘constructive’ input about new regulation if it hits the competition harder than Philip Morris itself. For that reason the company broke away from the trade association of tobacco manufacturers.

Finally, Philip Morris is committed to a “smokeless future” and says it wants to end the production and sale of cigarettes. The company aims to make smokers who can’t quit switch to its “smokeless” new product, the IQOS. The company casts doubt on the harmfulness of the new products, while independent scientists point to the carcinogens in them.

The full article (in Dutch) was published on Follow The Money.

By Ties Keyzer and Tim Luimes

December 7, 2020



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