Large corporations are one of the leading players in lobbying activities in the world. Philip Morris is one example. Since its creation in 1874, lobbying had been important corner stone of the companies’ strategy. The company also plays a leading role in the sector in order to secure their own interests. The company has hired top lobbying firms to lobby against health authorities and regulations around the world (Bouwen, 2002).
Controversies exist over the deadly nature of tobacco, which has made tobacco companies worried. The company has had to face several litigations regarding the same (Bennett et al., 2017). Most of the controversies are made regarding the packaging process of the company and the qualities of the product that the company is using for the products. In the United Kingdom, disputes arose in 2014 due to the plain packaging system. However, litigations are pending against the company due to the same, and the company has to face damages. However, the company has also filed cases asking for compensation from the government of the United Kingdom for the introduction of plain packaging for their product (McDaniel et al., 2015).
According to a report, the company is deploying its resources against global efforts for the reduction of smoking. In 2014, the company has spent million on a lobby control department to maintain transparency in their activities. According to the media relationship manager of Philip Morris, the financial discrepancies imposed on the company are fateful, as the company has always contributed their views within the decision-making process of the European Union (Crosbie, Sosa and Glantz, 2018). Further criticisms have been made against the rules that regulate the contract between policymakers and the tobacco manufacturing industries.
This essay is evolved with certain lobbying matters seeking to influence regulations, and to explain the role that Philip Morris and other tobacco industries perform when trying to corrupt the law to secure their own interests around the world. There will be an attempt to examine some of the events that may have tempted such expenditure by the firm. Furthermore, this essay has come across a few disadvantages that might arise to social stakeholders and how policymakers and authorities can protect the interests of society.
Philip Morris, an Overview:
Philip Morris is an international tobacco manufacturing company that has around 180 branches spread over several countries. The company is recognised as the producer of the leading tobacco product, Marlboro. Said company has worked under the supervision of the Altaria Group until 2008, and after that year, a spin off took place in the group regarding the corporate ownership of the US sales market. All of the shareholders of the Altaria groups were investing their capital in the Philip Morris, while the group wanted to concentrate in the sales market of the USA. Therefore, a conflict has cropped up in this regard. The headquarters of the company is situated in New York, and the operational headquarters of the company are situated in Switzerland (Pmi.com, 2018).
Lobbying is an act that attempts to influence the actions or policies made by officials in their daily life. Most of the time, lobbying is undertaken to influence the work of regulatory agencies (Berry, 2015). According to the ethical principle of lobbying, the use of socio-economic power by someone attempting to corrupt the law to secure his or her own interest is treated as lobbying (Griffin and Thurber, 2015).
It has been observed that professional lobbyists influence legislation to progress their own commercial interests. Certain conflicts of interest have been raised when officials are trying to shape laws according to their own perspective (McCambridge, Hawkins and Holden, 2014). The process of lobbying is treated as an agent of misdirection when any government official or private company fails to go about their duties in favour of public interests. Therefore, the word lobbying can be defined as an advocacy that is intended to influence the decisions made by the government in line with certain special interests.
Considering the nature of it, the term lobbying is regarded as amicus curiae and governments sometimes treat it as a part of law in order to prevent the chances of political corruption and to establish transparency according to the lobby registers (Kim, 2017). For an instance, certain rules have been made to provide advantages to coloured people by the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, which has been challenged in 1950 by the process of lobbying. The Supreme Court of USA had declared the policies of the organisation as unconstitutional. In the United Kingdom, most of the lobbying is made from the corporate side and the purpose of it is to amend government rules through advocacy (Borisov, Goldman and Gupta, 2015). Lobbying is considered as a legal process, in the case where the practice has been professed to influence political decisions.
Lobbying against tobacco control policies:
In this present case, it has been observed that one of the leading tobacco manufacturers in the world has had to face a lot of trouble due to the policies undertaken by the World Health Organisation. The company has made certain protests regarding the same. In 2003, the WHO has taken on a certain framework to control tobacco. This treaty was adopted under Article 19 of the constitution (de Godoy Lusso et al., 2017).
The operation of the treaty has been coming into force more in 2005. The main purpose of the treaty is to protect the current generation from the detrimental effects of smoking consumption. This treaty has also concentrated on the societal and environmental effects of smoking.
A universal standard has been on to curb the danger of consuming ashes by way of limiting its utilisation. The standard is known as the FCTC standard, and after the issuance of the standard, many tobacco manufacturers have denied to abide by the regulations. An increment in tobacco-related diseases has been observed and Professor Ruth Roemer has taken all the possible steps to apply legal provisions to control the use of tobacco on a worldwide basis. However, lobbying has been made by the tobacco industry against the tobacco control policies taken by World Health Organisation.
Reasons behind corporation lobbying:
The purpose of the lobbying process was to shift the concentration from health issues to the financial losses suffered by the tobacco industry (Roache, Gostin and Fonsalia, 2016). With this intention, the tobacco industry has tried to influence member state delegation. The tobacco industry has taken on several policies to sloth the implementation process of the FCTC by filing more cases against it (Nixon, Mahmoud and Glantz, 2004). It has also been pointed out by the tobacco industry that they are the stakeholders of the tobacco control process, and that they should get the permission to be a member involved in the decision-making process.
Tobacco industry has always made interferences in the policy implementation process of tobacco control (Yachand and Bettche, 2000). The tobacco industry is opposing the steps that are taken to regularise the price and marketing of tobacco. It can be seen that Philip Morris has also made certain steps to oppose the policies taken on by the World Health Organisation and has filed several cases to delay the implementation process of tobacco control. However, it has been proven scientifically that tobacco has a detrimental effect on various classes of society (Savell, Gilmore and Fooks, 2014).
According to the policy makers of the World Health Organisation, the strategies undertaken by the tobacco industry are undermining the tobacco control process (Armus, 2016). Furthermore, a major part of society is victimised by tobacco consumption. On the other hand, the tobacco industry is raising their voice regarding the financial features of the tobacco industry. They are not intending to look into the health issue, and it has been observed that the steps and policies taken on by the tobacco industry have affected societal stakeholders.
Detriment Implication to Societal Stakeholders:
According to a report published in 2000 by the World Health Organisation, tobacco consumption creates serious implications in society. The detrimental substances in the products hamper the lungs and other physical parts of the human body. It has been observed that the same affect a major part of society, even if they do not consume the products directly. The World Health Organisation has established several policies to protect the interests of society and according to them, the tobacco industry should have to follow all guidelines regarding this. A matter of conflict has arisen when clashes have cropped up regarding policy implications on tobacco control. There is clear evidence that the tobacco industry is contravening the process of implication by adopting many varied responsive steps (Davidson and de Silva, 2017).
According to the tobacco industry, if all policies are implemented, then certain classes of society will be affected by it. It has been stated that on the continents of Asia and Africa, tobacco is one of the most dominant cash crops and almost 50% of tobacco is exporting from China, Africa and India. The cultivation of tobacco is profitable and large sections of farmers are involved. Therefore, if the cultivation is controlled, the farmers will be affected at the domestic level. If the tobacco consumption rate is reduced, the manufacturing companies will face loss, deployment will take place, and the new generation could have to face unemployment (McCarthy, 2015).
Tobacco is one of the main exported materials for many countries, and in case of any reduction in consumption, the financial source will be affected. However, excessive use of tobacco causes disease among poor people, and tobacco consumption also affects the family of those involved. Deaths are very frequent among poor people regarding tobacco consumption. Approximately 7 million people are dying yearly due to tobacco consumption worldwide. It has been estimated that almost US$1.4 trillion has been expended per year as the health care cost resulting from the tobacco industry (WHO, 2017). Therefore, efforts should be undertaken at the domestic level and the authorities should adopt economic policies with the intention to lower the disease burden without hampering the interests of the tobacco industry.
The main intention of the FCTC was to implement all of the rules at the grassroot level to minimise the effects of tobacco consumption. The tobacco control board wants to introduce all policies at the domestic levels (Elias and Ling, 2018). However, the increasing lobbying made by the industry has delayed the process. For instance, in Kenya, which is regional hub for tobacco manufacture, the lobby board has able to make a provision for the tobacco control policies. Therefore, it becomes a hard task for the World Health Organisation to curb tobacco-related problems or the implementation of proper policies regarding the same (Bruckner, 2017).
Many leading industries are making a pact with leading authorities to secure their own interests. One of these is Philip Morris, which has chalked out many plans with the intention to block the framework of tobacco control policies. Furthermore, it has been observed that three tobacco companies - British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Philip Morris International - have made a pact to oppose the policy.
The policy implementation process has been mentioned under Article 5.3 of the constitution of the World Health Organisation. The tobacco industry is trying to make changes to the Article and wants to be on the membership list of the decision-making body. It has been stated by the President of the International Tobacco Growers’ Association that the policies of the WHO on tobacco control policy are vague in nature, the policies are affecting finances, and tobacco stakeholders are facing serious losses due to the same.
It has been discussed on previous occasions that the tobacco industry is lobbying against the policies taken on the tobacco control board and in this case, many leading companies in the financial sector are influencing government officials to secure their own interests. Since 1995, US tobacco firms have contributed more than $32 million in political donations to federal and state candidates and political parties in the USA, in order to influence federal elections and politicians. It has been observed that one of the leading tobacco companies, Philip Morris, has invested €5 million in this regard in 2014. However, according to the Wall Street Watch report, the tobacco industry in the USA has invested $32 million to politically influenced parties, while commercial banks are investing near to $154 million to certain registered lobbying authorities. Various campaigns have been concocted to this effect and it has been observed that insurance companies have invested $220 million to this end.
Philip Morris Lobbying Activities:
Tobacco control boards are very concerned about policy implementation. However, many tobacco companies are spending more money in the lobbying process to secure their own interests, and it has been observed that leading companies like Philip Morris have invested lots of money in this process. According to a report published by Forbes in 2013, the company is the highest payer to lobby members of the European Parliament (Forbes.com, 2018). According to the directives of the European Union, tobacco companies are required to advertise anti-smoking features on the packets, and health warnings should be framed on all cigarette packets. Furthermore, it has been mentioned in the directives that menthol flavours should be excluded from the lists in the cigarette manufacturing process.
It has also been observed that the tobacco control board is willing to impose certain taxes on e-cigarettes. All of these regulations hamper the commercial process of the tobacco companies and therefore, allegations have been made. It has been observed that the tobacco companies are filing different cases in court with an intention to make the process of implementation slower in nature. Money has been invested in relation to this process (Guardino et al., 2007).
The company has decided to go with the policies and in this regard, the company has rescheduled its policies to do with tobacco market selling. However, it has been observed that the policies taken on by the tobacco committees are being delayed by pending lawsuits. The tobacco industry has made a demand of billions of dollars from the tobacco regulatory board and therefore, the committee has to rethink its policies and strategies (McCarthy, 2015).
Philip Morris is intending to maintain the policies of the FDA regulation and the company is raising its voice to do with the usage of safe cigarettes. However, it has been pointed out that the US Tobacco industry has to face a 2% loss regarding the sale of tobacco products. It has been stated by the chair person of the company that the consent of the FDA will become a major asset for tobacco companies in the future. The company has confessed to the fact that the US tobacco market has earned $20 billion from the cigarette market only and that the nature of the market was domestic. The company is concentrating on the sustainable process of tobacco consumption. However, the company has asked its investors to endow their capital in government projects by making the public health leaders its target. Tobacco companies are opposing the implementation processes mentioned in Article 9 and 10 of the strategies where the term “reduced harm” has been mentioned (Givel, 2005).
The regulatory board seeks to ban all e-cigarettes in the UK and the tobacco companies are obviously protesting against such steps, as it affects their selling criteria. It has been pointed out by the companies that tobacco-related products are quite profitable and if any contradictory provisions are imposed on it, then the financial market can crash. Considering the profitable marketing criteria, wealthy investors are investing their capital in the market with a hope to get more returns (the Department of Health, 2013).
EU Regulation and the implementation process of the tobacco policies:
The European Union has taken certain backdoor policies to floor discussions with the tobacco companies and to talk about the mal-administrative processes of the tobacco control boards regarding this issue. It has been alleged by Philip Morris that the policies and decisions made by the World Health Organisation are opaque in nature and they have filed petitions in court to become a member of the decision-making committee (Reuters, 2018).
This mentality of the tobacco companies has been reflected in a leaked document from Philip Morris, where it has revealed that the company is investing £1.25 million that is expected to be used in lobbying bodies and in the organisation for the benefit of the farmers (Peeters et al., 2015).
In 2013, the European Union - with the intention to decide on the pros and cons of tobacco regulation and the implementation process of the tobacco policies - were delayed for a longer period. It has been presumed that tobacco companies are investing the money to instigate this process and the future of the regulations has become uncertain. It has been observed that the company has made various steps in order to nurture its voice regarding the decision-making process and it has been observed that the director of the company has taken steps to make the nature of the policies more clear and fair for the tobacco companies impacted (Cowlishaw and Thomas, 2018).
It is obvious that the efforts of the company are being made with the intention to secure its own interests. Philip Morris has advised the regulatory board to modify the rules of the measures taken by the World Health Organisation. According to the annual production report of Philip Morris, the production of the company will be reduced if all of the policies are applied and the sales market of the company will be hampered for the same (Griffin and Thurber, 2015). It is expected that the market reduction will be 375 billion by 2021, comparing to its current market criteria of 450 billion.
According to a report made by Reuters in 2017, it has been revealed that Philip Morris is conducting a secret campaign to oppose the anti-smoking treaties of the World Health Organisation (Reuters 2018). It has further been revealed that the company has invested a lot of money in order to influence the decision of the members of the regulatory board and according to a published report, the company has spent $6,260,000 on tobacco lobbying. This investment has helped the company to hold first position among all members of the tobacco companies in the European Union.
The above discussion has highlighted the various issues present. It has been observed that the company has made certain decisions over the tobacco control process and the company wishes to regulate the tobacco control policies by way of an intervention in government. The main aim of the company is to secure the interest of tobacco companies in respect of the products and markets. Phillip Morris is regarded as one the most nemeses of the anti-smoking announcements. However, the recent initiative taken on by the company has remained keeping the lobbying industries silent (Malone, 2018).
The company has been deploying its resources on a large scale basis against the global effort for the reduction of smoking regulations, while also using company resources to achieve their own political preferences.
Lobbying has been made by the tobacco industry against the tobacco control policies made by World Health Organisation such as the FCTC, and also against European legislation such as the tobacco products directive. Phillip Morris alone has hired over 160 lobbyists. Different strategies are used by third parties, including efforts to delay and block the proposal policy. This was partially successful, with bans on all e-cigarettes and plain packaging in the UK.
Tobacco consumption has serious consequences for society. The harmful substances in the products hinder many organs in the human body. International organisations such as the WHO and EU has enacted several policies to defend the interests of society and according to them, the tobacco industry should follow all guidelines regarding this. There is clear evidence that tobacco industries are contravening the process of policy implication by adopting many steps to prevent and delay any legislation.