Announcing the winners of the 2020 ATIM-BETA competition to expose Big Tobacco’s influence on health policies in Africa

The Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research (ATIM) Building Effective Tobacco Control Advocates in Africa (BETA) project is glad to announce the winners of the 2020 ATIM-BETA competition to expose Big Tobacco’s influence on health policies in Africa.

In July 2020, ATIM-BETA in collaboration with the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), sent out a call to tobacco control stakeholders to research and write up on what the tobacco industry is doing to interfere with tobacco control efforts in their country since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, as well as their responses to counter Big Tobacco. The applicants were required to submit reports, factsheets or posters focused on industry tactics during the Covid-19 pandemic. Applications were received from Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, The Gambia, and Nigeria.

After a thorough and fair review process by tobacco control experts from Africa and America, six awards were made to the winning teams and individuals. Prizes were awarded based on the average scores using the pre-determined prize levels as highlighted below:

1st prize80%+$1000
2nd prize70% -79%$800
3rd prize60% -69%$700
4th prize50% – 59%$500
No prize0% – 49%

None of the applicants received the first prize, which required an overall score of 80% and above. The winners are as follows:


Title: Exposing the tobacco industry’s manipulative tactics in South Africa

Country: South Africa

Submitter: Sharon Nyatsanza

The entry exposed the tobacco industry’s interference through legal intimidation during COVID-19 lockdown over the tobacco ban, blaming the tobacco sales ban for increasing illicit trade and using front groups to push the narrative of an industry in distress. Tobacco control advocates have used this period to call for the Tobacco Control bill’s finalization, highlighting that Covid-19 has served as a reminder of the need to reduce smoking.

Title: Tobacco industry manipulation of public perception using media during COVID-19

Country: Uganda

Submitter: Destiny Gladys Chaiga

The entry exposed the industry’s use of social media to advertise tobacco. In June 2020, the tobacco industry (TI) challenged the tobacco control regulations, whose hearing was halted by High Court. The industry also engaged in corporate social responsibility by donating millions of Ugandan Shillings to the Uganda Nation Response Fund for COVID-19. Uganda Health Communication Alliance (UHCA) has used many media streams, including social media and online webinars, to sensitize Ugandans, especially the youth, about TI misinformation, TI targets on youth, dangers of tobacco harm, and the need to comply with the Tobacco Control Act 2015.

Title: Tobacco industry interference in Kenya during COVID-19 pandemic: giving with one hand while taking away with the other

Country: Kenya

Submitter: Elizabeth Mbugua

Further to exposing the TI’s corporate social responsibility, the entry further revealed the industry’s influence on the government to classify a new nicotine pouch product called LYFT as a pharmaceutical product. Together with other tobacco control advocates, they have called out the government to de-register LYFT as a pharmaceutical drug through social media, newspaper articles, and press statements.


Title: Exposing tobacco industry COVID-19 Tactics and influence on health policies in Kenya

Country: Kenya

Submitter(s): Maurice Ituriu and Timothy Mworia

The entry exposed the Tobacco Industry’s corporate social responsibility efforts of donating to the national COVID-19 Fund and industry‘s lobbying the government, leading to the Ministry of Industrialization in Kenya listing tobacco products among essential commodities.

Title: Tobacco Industry Monitoring and response

Country: Kenya

Submitter: Caren Sang

The entry exposed the industry’s efforts to reinvent itself through the “Youth smoking prevention” program to depict smoking as an adult choice and appear to protect children from tobacco. It also exposed efforts by the industry to promote new novel products like e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn.

Title: Tobacco industry riding on COVID 19 to push its agenda using alliances and front groups

Country: Uganda

Submitter: Georgine Obwana

The entry exposed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and directed donations by the Tobacco Industry. The industry has supported health and education programs, which has not improved farmers’ welfare in the West Nile and Bunyoro region, and other health and education programs. Stakeholders in tobacco control and monitoring have urged government and politicians to desist from associating with the industry.

ATIM-BETA would like to thank all the entrants for making the competition a success.