Coalition opposed to plain packaging has many ties to tobacco industry

14 Jun 2016


Philip Morris funding for Atlas

In 1995, Philip Morris contributed US$475,000 to Atlas, according to an internal budget document released as part of the settlement of the legal action brought by several U.S. states’ attorneys general, and reported by SourceWatch

In 1997, despite a tight budget, PM staff recommended Atlas receive $150,000 because of the organization’s ability, through its events and public advocacy work, to “positively impact the regulatory environment, particularly in Latin America”. The think tanks fostered by Atlas, PM staff wrote approvingly, results in “an improved operating environment for all PM businesses”.

Formerly known as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Atlas Network was founded in 1981 by Antony Fisher. It is closely affiliated with the UK‐based Institute of Economic Affairs, the University of Buckingham (which has ties to the Global Warming Policy Foundation) and an international analogue, the International Policy Network (formerly known as Atlas Economic Research Foundation (UK)), says SourceWatch.

Individual members of the anti-plain packaging coalition have also received tobacco industry funding. These include Citizens Against Government Waste and Americans for Tax Reform.

Tobacco industry members

Other signatories count tobacco companies among their members, including the Czech Association for Branded Products.

In its letter to Chan the coalition described plain packaging as “detrimental trademark infringement”. It echoed tobacco industry claims about plain packaging in Australia, which in 2012 became the first country to implement the measure:

“Data suggests that the plain packaging efforts may not be as successful as these governments would have the public believe with smoking rates actually increasing in a number of Australian states in the year following the policy’s implementation….”

However, a review of research done since 1990 has found that plain packaging is effective. 

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