The Secret Bribes of Big Tobacco

Published on 22nd March 2017 by

A 2015 BBC Panorama episode exposing one of the UK’s biggest companies, British American Tobacco (BAT), for illegally bribing politicians and civil servants in impoverished companies in East Africa. The scandal came to light when a whistleblower shared hundreds of secret documents with the BBC. Panorama lift the lid on a corporate culture which encouraged bribes in Africa, arguing that it was just the way that business was done in the continent, three of the recipients of bribes worked for the World Health Organization.

The bribes were intended to undermine anti-smoking legislation to protect the profits of the business, at the expense of the health of the general population of the countries in question, the bribes would undermine a campaign being fought by the United Nations to reduce smoking related deaths. The bribes would effectively result in deaths. It is not the first time that a BBC programme as lifted the lid on unethical practices of Western tobacco companies in Africa, in Bannatyne Takes on Big Tobacco (2008) the British entreprenuer and Dragons Den judge Duncan Bannatyne exposes cigarette marketing techniques designed to target children.

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