The fight against Big Tobacco is nowhere near over. In fact, it’s only just beginning. The tobacco industry is ridden with scandal, corruption and hypocrisy and Codentify is only the tip of the iceberg.
Last week I covered the unprecedented greed of British American Tobacco, as I covered the story of BAT enforcer-turned-whistleblower Paul Hopkins. In his testimony to a British investigative show, Hopkins revealed the truly disgraceful activities of cancer-merchants BAT – who are already rolling in an amount of cash of which only Scrooge McDuck could be jealous.
Hopkins’ role in East Africa was essentially to undermine, bribe or physically contain any and all legislation that might cause awareness of tobacco’s negative health effects and to stamp out any calls for increase taxes, tariffs or penalties against Big Tobacco.
What’s funny (or horrifying, depending on the way you look at it), is that in the broader tobacco industry, such behavior is so blasé and unremarkable. But each and every article you read about, and all of the negative coverage against Big Tobacco should only be met with more scrutiny, more promotion and more anger.
Why is it that whenever tobacco companies commit corporate and ethical atrocities across the world no one flinches? You know why? It’s because it’s simply what we’ve all come to expect. It’s an everyday occurrence. It’s all part of the plan.
But while most of the world may passively slumber within their cocoon of complacency towards evil, I will not sit idly by as this diabolical industry kills more and more people while their shares and profits skyrocket.
Let’s expose the tobacco industry’s nefarious ways, one scandal at a time. Thankfully there are plenty of past scandals to reveal here.
In an Independent UK article published this past May, a report by the Action on Smoking and Health organization found that the tobacco industry is actually bolstering the illegal trade and purchase of their own cigarette brands. Codentify by the way, will only make that easier for them as they will be allowed to regulate and report their own production numbers.
Yes, you heard that correctly. But while ludicrous as it may sound, the tobacco companies obviously have an economically sound reason for doing so. Aside from gaining profits without having to pay taxes on their illegal exports, the tobacco companies use the increase in smuggling to show that it just isn’t worth increasing trade regulations or anti-tobacco legislation. The tobacco companies can turn around to their governments and say, “Hey look, it’s not like your new laws are actually going to do anything!”
According to chief executive of ASH Deborah Arnott, “They can argue that there is already a lot of smuggling, so you can’t increase duties further. Our paper shows the appalling hypocrisy of the industry: they have been shouting about illicit trade, while remaining up to their necks in it themselves.”
This “appalling hypocrisy” is part and parcel of the tobacco industry’s tactics around the world. If you were ever confused about their manta, I’m pretty sure it goes like this: fool the world, kill vulnerable people, make billions.
So in typical form, the lobbying tentacles of Big Tobacco must rebut any and all criticism of their practices. This is no exception. Giles Roca, the director general of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association (aka Big Tobacco’s rhetoricians), whined that, “The tobacco industry is firmly committed to tackling illegal trade. Anti-smoking lobby groups such as ASH fail to demonstrate any real understanding of the drivers of the illegal market, such as the UK’s very high tax policy, and instead focus on making unhelpful allegations.”
Roca is actually trying to divert the attention of readers to the “misgivings” of those who actually want to bring down true unabashed evil and smear them as liars, while claiming that the massive conglomerated cancer-merchants that he represents are in fact the moral actors in this case. Meanwhile, he casually slips in that smuggling happens because taxes are too high. I am truly sick to my stomach. Cry me a river, Giles.
Another interesting scandal happened when late night host and proud anti-tobacco whistleblower Jon Oliver of Last Week Tonight dedicated a twenty-minute segment to blasting the legal practices of Philip Morris International. The late night segment is worth a watch, I have posted it previously, and is both uproariously funny and frighteningly revealing about the evils of Big Tobacco.
In the segment, Oliver showed how PMI would specifically target young teenage boys in South East Asia to turn them onto cigarettes, thereby addicting them for life.
Moreover, he revealed that PMI used truly despicable law practices to stamp out any criticism of their company, including bankrupting all poor governments – like Togo – who want to establish common-sense laws against or warning against smoking. They did so on the grounds of too many bullshit platitudes to even name. Suffice it say, PMI won time after time in corner governments into doing their bidding.
And despite all of this, and despite the respectful nature of Oliver’s broadcasts, after the show, PMI had the gall to issue a laughable statement in response, claiming that, “The segment includes many mischaracterizations of our company, including our approach to marketing and regulation, which have been embellished in the spirit of comedic license.”
The statement also alleged that, “We support and comply with thousands of regulations worldwide — including advertising restrictions, penalties for selling tobacco products to minors, and substantial health warnings on packaging. We’re investing billions into developing and scientifically assessing a portfolio of products that have the potential to be less harmful and that are satisfying so smokers will switch to them. And, like any other company with a responsibility to its business partners, shareholders and employees, we ask only that laws protecting investments, including trademarks, be equally applied to us.”
I must have laughed out loud while reading that load of garbage. If you want any proof as to the level of B.S. that statement was, just go back around five hundred words.
Which brings me back to a topic that cannot be understated, that of the potential “Codentify nightmare”. I come back to this time and time again only because it is one of the most pressing issues in world health and anti-smoking campaigns. It is still currently being discussed in the European Union!
To repeat, Codentify is a bogus tracking system that Big Tobacco invented in order to circumvent any prosecution against the smuggling of their own products. They made it so that the European Parliament can pat itself on the back for endorsing a dedicated track-and-trace system to monitor the legal trade of cigarettes. The only problem? Codentify doesn’t have track and trace, and allows no technical means to actually monitor illegal sales – meaning that Big Tobacco reaps the massive profits of both legal and illegal cigarettes without paying taxes on the smuggled ones.
We cannot let Codentify become a reality. We cannot let these evil, murderous corporations win total control.
The Truth is I am seriously considering releasing to the public my newest round of exclusive evidence provided by former tobacco industry employees. I am just waiting on feedback from a few experts who are much wiser then I.