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Tobacco industry's smoke screen blown

An elaborate dirty tricks campaign orchestrated by the tobacco industry to sabotage WHO anti-tobacco efforts is revealed in a WHO report released today.

Fiona Godlee

LONDON The World Health Organisation has been the target of a long-running, elaborate and secret campaign by the tobacco industry to subvert its anti-tobacco initiatives, according to a report published today. The independent report, commissioned by WHO after last year's publication of confidential tobacco industry documents, concludes: "That tobacco companies resist proposals for tobacco control comes as no surprise, but what is now visible is the scale, intensity and, importantly, the tactics of their campaign." The report calls for stronger rules on conflict of interest to protect the integrity of international decision making.

The committee of four independent experts reviewed some of the 35 million pages of tobacco industry documents released last year as a result of US litigation. It found evidence that may explain the poor impact of WHO's efforts to control tobacco use over the past 20 years, particularly in the developing world. Tactics used by the industry...

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