Reading Time: 2 minutes

About This Project

In February 2010, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists launched a probe into the multinational tobacco industry’s lobbying and political practices in developing nations and emerging markets. In eight countries, reporters have followed connections between the industry and government officials who are tasked with protecting non-smokers and designing rules to curb the massive public cost of treating tobacco-related illness.

The investigation has traced how multinational tobacco companies, faced with stagnant sales and health-conscious governments in developed nations, have underwritten an array of efforts to delay or derail smoking reforms in developing nations, ranging from hard-nosed lobbying and lawsuits to charitable donations and outright payoffs.

Thirteen ICIJ reporters have conducted hundreds of interviews with leading politicians, government regulators, health-care specialists, tobacco control activists, and current and former industry executives. The project has looked at six countries as case studies – India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and Uruguay. In each of these places, court and government records are being mined – in some cases testing new freedom of information laws. And a trove of tobacco industry documents, made public after landmark lawsuits in U.S. courts, were examined to draw connections between past practices and present-day consequences of tobacco’s hard lobbying.

Smoke Screen: Big Tobacco’s International Lobbying Push, concludes ICIJ’s multi-year look at industry controversies such as the unsavory ties of tobacco companies to smuggling, revealing how the industry colluded with organized crime groups to further market share and evade taxes.

The Team

ICIJ Interim Director: Bill Kovach

Project Director: Ricardo Sandoval Palos

Reporting Team: Traver Riggins (United States), Inga Springe (Latvia and United States), Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab (Mexico), Roman Anin (Russia), Duncan Campbell (United Kingdom), Andreas Harsono (Indonesia) and Murali Krishnan (India)

Web Team: Andrew Green, Erik Lincoln, Cole Goins

Photography: Rocco Rorandelli (India and Nigeria) Bernardo de Niz and Jose Corea (Mexico)

Video Production: Emma Schwartz and Jasmine Norwood

Graphics: Stephen Rountree

Help support this work

Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising so that our investigative reporting can have the widest possible impact on addressing inequality in the U.S. Our work is possible thanks to support from people like you.