British American Tobacco bribery investigation

30 November 2015        

cigarettes in an ashtray Panorama reveals detailed evidence of employees of the British American Tobacco (BAT) Group bribing decision makers on tobacco legislation.

BAT is the biggest tobacco company in Africa, with the largest market share in two thirds of African countries.

The evidence indicates that BAT Group money has been used to:

  • Corrupt national parliaments
  • Get information on – and make changes to – tobacco control legislation
  • Get market information and intelligence to undermine competitors

Mike Hobday, Director of Policy at the British Heart Foundation said: 

"If these appalling allegations against the British American Tobacco Group are true, it is yet another example of the shoddy, unethical practices of an already shoddy, unethical business. We already know that cigarettes are the only product sold that, when used as the manufacturer intends, kill half of all long term users. As well as these new bribery accusations, it is high time the tobacco industry is held financially accountable for prioritising profit over people’s lives."

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is calling for an urgent inquiry into whether criminal offences have been committed.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said: 

"Panorama’s shocking evidence must be investigated without delay. If true, it is hard to imagine any more disgusting act for a British company than to pay decision makers in Africa to prevent legislation being passed to protect children and young people from a future of addiction, disease and premature death caused by smoking. We will be writing to the Government to demand that a criminal investigation under the Bribery Act is launched at once."

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