About this project: Smoke Screen II


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.

Worldwide, between 2005 and 2030, an estimated 170 million people will have died because of tobacco-related illness -- 135 million of those deaths will be people who live in developing nations. Tobacco consumption remains the world's leading preventable cause of death.

The ICIJ 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 five countries as case studies – India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia and Uruguay. In each of these places, court and government records have been 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 Director: Gerard Ryle
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 and Shantanu Guha Ray (India)
Web Team: Erik Lincoln, Cole Goins and Sarah Whitmire
Photography: Rocco Rorandelli (India and Indonesia) Bernardo de Niz and Jose Corea (Mexico)
Video Production: Emma Schwartz and Jasmine Norwood
Graphics: Stephen Rountree