Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2023
Tobacco Industry Interference Index: Switzerland drops lower still
In the latest Global Tobacco Interference Index 2023, Switzerland comes in second-last place once again (89/90), only just ahead of the Dominican Republic. Due to the larger number of countries included in the index, Switzerland has dropped another 10 places. This illustrates once again that the tobacco industry's influence on politics in Switzerland remains undiminished and continues to prevent effective tobacco control that protects people from tobacco's deadly products.
With a score of 95 out of a possible 100 points, Switzerland ranks 89th out of a total of 90 countries and can therefore be considered particularly susceptible to the interests of the tobacco and nicotine industry. Of the 20 European countries that took part, Switzerland even scored the poorest. Compared to the last ranking in 2021, in which it was ranked 79th out of 80 countries, it has dropped 10 places and three points. Brunei, New Zealand, as well as France and the Netherlands occupy the top three places respectively making them the nations with the least influence of the tobacco industry on politics.
Switzerland ranks the worst in Europe
Influencing research, collaboration with federal authorities and off-the-record meetings
The result is clear: the tobacco industry continues to exert significant influence on public health policy discussions and legislative processes. It participates in debates on regulatory measures, influences decision-makers and uses a large network of lobbyists to disseminate biased information and promote its interests that undermine public health. Three examples from the report include:
Research: ETH Zurich conducted a study with financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the tobacco industry, namely Philip Morris. For a long time, the tobacco industry has pursued targeted funding strategies for research projects that serve its commercial interests.
Greenwashing campaign with the FOEN: The FOEN worked with numerous industry representatives and meeting minutes show that the FOEN planned a greenwashing campaign with industry representatives. It is well known that the tobacco industry has a history of employing various tactics to improve its reputation, particularly regarding sustainability and environmental protection. One of the main reasons for the lack of an effective environmental protection policy against the improper disposal of cigarette butts in Switzerland is the close co-operation between federal authorities and the tobacco industry.
Meetings with politicians: In accordance with the Transparency Act, AT Switzerland requested documents from local authorities dating back to 2021 to investigate any formal links between the tobacco industry. Some authorities, such as the canton of Neuchâtel, stated that they hold an annual meeting with a tobacco company for which no records are kept. The city of Lausanne stated that they do not keep minutes of their regular meetings, including informal lunches with the industry.
The most recent example of the tobacco industry's influence on politics, which does not fall within the period under review in this report, is the donation of CHF 35,000 each made by Philip Morris to the two parties FDP and SVP during the federal elections in October 2023.
Score of participating countries in global ranking (2023)
Lack of FCTC ratification: Switzerland remains an unregulated playground for the tobacco industry
The extensive collaboration between Swiss public authorities and leading tobacco corporations underscores the considerable leeway granted to the tobacco industry within the country. This situation largely stems from the absence of a robust tobacco control policy with definitive guidelines to curb such corporate alliances. Switzerland's status as one of the few nations that has not ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) only amplifies this issue, allowing the tobacco sector to capitalize on these regulatory gaps and lenient federal laws. Concurrently, Switzerland continues to serve as a pivotal hub for the operations of three global tobacco giants: Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT), and Japan Tobacco International (JTI).
«It is time that Switzerland ratifies the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and implements the necessary measures to strictly regulate tobacco.»
Laurence Fehlmann Rielle, President of AT Switzerland und National Councillor (SP)
AT Switzerland, november 2023