Conclusion: if you describe senior tobacco control personnel as murderously corrupt, you probably aren’t going far enough
The honest and ethical people departed
Most of the honest and ethical health advocates left tobacco control when it became obvious that the movement had become an industry, and that the industry agenda was becoming less and less related to public health: it began to promote unattainable goals that in any case involved as much harm as health benefit, along with highly questionable support for external sources that provided funds.
Pharma had a problem: TC wanted to eliminate smoking, but smoking made pharma rich. By this time smoking had created a monster money machine that millions of people depended on: it had become an economy in and of itself. Pharma began to make more from smoking than tobacco did, in some places (such as the UK). Governments made even more. People in public health began to depend on tobacco for a job. Pharma’s solution was simple: buy anyone and everyone involved, in order to keep the gravy train rolling. They bought out the health organisations working against smoking, and turned them into front groups. They bought the policy makers, to make sure the laws suited. They had enough leverage on the media to make it work, since they part-owned it, were major advertisers, and tobacco advertising, previously a major channel, had been banned.
The crucial thing to remember is that pharma depends on smoking – no one is going to voluntarily kiss goodbye to $200bn a year.