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The UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2023

Researchers have measured the intensity, frequency and severity of incidents of tobacco industry interference in the UK

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London, England. The building is lit up and set against a dramatic sky with cars and busses zooming by on Waterloo Bridge.
The UK has fallen further behind in the global tobacco industry interference index ranking

The UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index (UKTI) forms part of the Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index, which ranks 90 countries worldwide, up from 80 in 2021. The UK is now ranked 21st globally, a drop from third position in 2021, fourth position in 2020 and best overall ranking in 2019.

The 2023 UKTI has been produced by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath and lead by Dr Raouf Alebshehy with input from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), ASH Scotland, ASH Wales and Cancer Research UK. It covers the period between April 2021 and March 2023.

The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index ranks countries based on how well they implement and comply with measures designed to prevent the tobacco industry interfering with policymaking by governments, as advised by the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which came into force in 2005.

The latest report shows that the UK has made no progress in protecting public health policies from the commercial interests of the tobacco industry.

‘Our research highlights a sharp increase in tobacco companies and associated organisations interfering with health policy making. This is coupled with a lack of awareness and lack of implementation of measures protecting public health from interference.’
Dr Raouf Alebshehy Lead author

The UK scored 48 out of a possible 100 in the 2023 ranking, compared to a score of 32 in 2021, where a higher score means greater tobacco industry interference. This year’s index highlights several areas of concern:

  • A lack of transparency across government about its interactions with the tobacco industry and no requirement for the tobacco industry and its associates to register their lobbying with the government , which is of concern given the industry’s growing use of third parties.

  • A wide range of unnecessary interactions between government officials, including senior ministers, and tobacco companies.

  • No government ban on tobacco industry activities described as “socially responsible,” meaning the industry was able to launder its image.

  • Tobacco companies attempt to influence policy by submitting responses to public consultations and officially commissioned policy reviews, including on issues of tobacco control.


The policy brief that accompanies the UKTI makes eight recommendations to improve the UK’s performance. These include:

  • The introduction of a legally binding and publicly accessible register that covers all lobbying and policy influence activity across UK administrations

  • A call for a renewed commitment to addressing conflicts of interest by prohibiting the tobacco industry from making contributions (monetary or otherwise) to political parties and public officials at all levels.

Previous report and policy briefs

‘The UK can put an end to tobacco industry interference if it addresses the issues set out in the index and acts on our recommendations that would be relatively straightforward and inexpensive to implement such as introducing a lobbying register.’
Dr Raouf Alebshehy Lead Author

2023 report and policy brief

Read the detailed findings in this year's UKTI report and the policy brief summarising the findings and policy recommendations.