The tobacco industry has been waging a sophisticated, secret campaign to undermine efforts by the World Health Organization to combat smoking around the globe, the agency charges in a scathing report being released Wednesday.
The detailed, 240-page report accuses the tobacco industry of working to pit other United Nations-affiliated agencies against the WHO, of trying to "discredit" the WHO and cut its budgets, and of hiring supposedly independent experts who grossly distorted scientific research results into the effects of smoking.
It also charges that tobacco companies secretly placed their own "consultants" at the Geneva-based WHO to monitor the agency's anti-smoking activities, and even secretly monitored some meetings and obtained confidential documents.
The report, commissioned by the WHO last fall, was written by former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler and three other international experts on public health and government relations. Much of its information comes from tobacco company documents made public through U.S. court proceedings.
One chapter details a 1988 plan headed by Philip Morris Cos. chief executive Geoffrey Bible -- who was then head of the company's international tobacco arm -- to attack WHO anti-smoking initiatives worldwide. The report concludes that many aspects of the effort, called the Boca Raton plan, are still being implemented today.
"The tobacco companies' own documents show that they viewed WHO, an international public health agency, as one of their foremost enemies," the report concludes. "The documents show further that the tobacco companies instigated global strategies to discredit and impede WHO's ability to carry out its mission."
In addition, the report details ways in which the industry created and used "ostensibly independent quasi-academic, public policy and business organizations."
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