Legal intimidation in Africa

How do tobacco companies use legal intimidation?

Taking the fight to the court

The tobacco industry has used a variety of methods to influence policy and legislation around tobacco control. Suing governments or threatening them with legal action is just one. The aim is to use court cases to block, nullify, modify or delay pending legislation.

Across the globe there are many examples that show how the tobacco industry has undermined government’s effort to protect public health through tobacco control by instituting large-scale lawsuits or threatening governments with these lawsuits.

Their legal intimidation tactics include providing testimony in court cases, writing position papers and constituency letters to government departments and face-to-face discussions with legislators to influence policy. 

Other methods of legal interference include:

  • exploiting legislative loopholes,
  • demanding a seat at government negotiating tables,
  • promoting voluntary regulations instead of legislation,
  • drafting sample legislation favourable to the industry,
  • challenging and stretching government timetables to implement laws,
  • bribing legislators,
  • gaining favour by financing government initiatives on other health issues and,
  • defending trade benefits at the expense of health