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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Profits Over People: Tobacco Industry Activities to Market Cigarettes and Undermine Public Health in Latin America and the Caribbean


“Profits Over People” is the result of over a year of investigation of more than 10,000 pages of internal tobacco company documents, mainly from Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, who together have most of the market share in LAC, obtained through the Internet and through the Guildford depository in the United Kingdom. The report shows that the tobacco companies:

were intensely competitive but collaborated in campaigns against common threats to the industry;

hired scientists throughout the region to misrepresent the science linking secondhand smoke to serious diseases, while cloaking in secrecy any connection of these scientists with the tobacco industry;

designed “youth smoking prevention” campaigns and programs primarily as public relations exercises aimed at deterring meaningful regulation of tobacco marketing;

had detailed knowledge of smuggling networks and markets and actively sought to increase their share of the illegal market by structuring marketing campaigns and distribution routes around it; and

enjoyed access to key government officials and succeeded in weakening or killing tobacco control legislation in a number of countries.

Although these tactics and strategies are not unique to the Americas region, this is the first study to comprehensively document the industry’s specific activities in LAC.

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