An ICIJ Investigation Smoke Screen

The tobacco lobby goes global

Down-and-out in developed nations, Big Tobacco is refocusing its lobbying on emerging markets.

About this investigation

Since it was founded, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has twice assigned teams of reporters to examine practices of the global tobacco industry. In February 2010 ICIJ launched another probe, this time following the industry’s money into the realm of international politics and lobbying. In eight countries, reporters have followed connections between the industry and government officials who are tasked with protecting non-smokers and designing rules to curb the massive public cost of treating tobacco-related illness.

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In October, in chaotic Mexico City, a small army of protestors, sporting placards and shouting into bullhorns, worsened the usual traffic snarl around San Lazaro, the nation’s congressional office complex. Television news accounts showed screaming-mad tobacco farmers, some of whom had boarded buses and traveled 500 miles to warn federal legislators that new taxes on cigarettes would put them out of business.

Smoking Tigers: India and Indonesia represent the biggest challenges to global tobacco reform.

With a population of around 240 million and weak government regulations, Indonesia is one of Big Tobacco’s smoking giants. As of 2009, 28 percent of Indonesian adults were smokers and more than half of men smoke, with around 200,000 people dying each year because of smoking-related sickness.

Tobacco giant wages legal fight over South America’s toughest smoking controls.

Government’s ties to industry slow-track tobacco controls.

In post-Soviet Russia, the right connections can mean success in business. And in the country’s lucrative retail tobacco trade, Igor Kesaev has set a new standard for success.

In Russia: High death rates, weak laws, and a powerful lobby.

OVERVIEW: Down-and-out in developed nations, Big Tobacco is refocusing its lobbying on emerging markets.

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The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a global network of more than 200 investigative journalists in 70 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.

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