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The UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2021

Smoking is a major public health threat, but how successful is the UK government at preventing the tobacco industry from interfering in health policy?

The Houses of Parliament
The Global Tobacco Index 2021 measures government success across 80 countries, including the UK, at preventing policy interference by the tobacco industry

The UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index (UKTI) forms part of the Global Tobacco Index (GTI). The index ranks 80 countries worldwide based on how well they implement and comply with specific measures drawn up by the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent the tobacco industry interfering with policy making by governments.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) came into force in 2005, and is the world’s first global public health treaty. Developed in response to the tobacco epidemic, it reaffirms every person’s right to the highest standard of health and provides a legal framework for international health co-operation. In total, there are 182 Parties to the WHO FCTC, including the UK.

The UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index

This short video explains more about the UK Index and the 2020/2021 results.

‘The UK’s policy-making system allows tobacco companies to present opinions ... [but] submissions from the tobacco industry can’t be equated with submissions from health advocates. This is not a level playing field’
Dr Raouf Alebshehy Lead researcher, UKTI

The research showed that the UK government has not improved its performance in preventing tobacco industry interference since last year. Areas of concern included:

  • tobacco companies conducting CSR activities via informal parliamentary groups and by lobbying. In the case of COVID-19, this was in response to direct requests from government
  • despite Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidelines to the contrary, UK diplomats engaging with the tobacco industry in low- and middle-income countries
  • a lack of transparency across government departments about their interactions with the tobacco industry, with inconsistent and insufficient requirements for reporting between different departments
  • no general requirement for the tobacco industry and affiliated entities to register with the government, which is of particular concern given the industry’s growing use of third parties

UKTI reports

Read the detailed findings in the UKTI reports for 2021, 2020 and 2019

UKTI policy briefs

The UKTI policy briefs summarise the findings and policy recommendations.

About the Tobacco Control Research Group

Find out more about TCRG

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The research used to compile the UKTI was led by the University of Bath in collaboration with Action on Smoking and Health, ASH Scotland, ASH Wales and Cancer Research UK.

The Global Tobacco Index 2021 is produced by the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. GGTC is a partner of STOP, a global tobacco industry watchdog.