tim seatca logo BG
Tobacco Industry Monitor

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance

Search
Close this search box.

Front groups, “think tanks”, and lobby groups

According to the ASEAN Tobacco Control Atlas, the tobacco industry* rallies and funds front groups to fight tobacco control measures at both international and national level. The tobacco industry refers to (a) any tobacco or tobacco product (including electronic smoking devices (ESD)) manufacturer, processor, wholesale distributor, importer , (b) any parent, affiliate, branch, or subsidiary of a tobacco or tobacco product (including ESD) manufacturer, wholesale distributor, importer, retailer, or (c) any individual or entity, such as, but not limited to an interest group, think tank, advocacy organization, lawyer, law firm, scientist, lobbyist, public relations, and/or advertising agency, business, or foundation, that represents or works to promote the interests of the tobacco and nicotine industry. The International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) is one such group which mobilizes tobacco growers to interfere in tobacco control policy development in ASEAN countries and fight FCTC implementation particularly Articles 8, 9, 10, 17 and 18. Other front groups include retailers and trade associations, coffee shop associations or research groups, which challenge tobacco control legislation.

Tobacco Industry Front Groups, Think Tanks, and Lobby Groups   

REGIONAL

Country/ RegionNameDescription/ NotesAdditional information
Asia Pacific RegionCoalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA)

An alliance of tobacco harm reduction advocates and their respective organizations in the Asia Pacific region. CAPHRA is a member of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations (INNCO), an international network promoting ENDS/HTPs which has received a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, which in turn is funded by Philip Morris International.

Its members have participated in activities supported by the tobacco industry. For example, Nancy E. Sutthoff, also known as Nancy Loucas – the executive coordinator of CAPHRA joined the 6th Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) as a presenter in 2019.

 
CambodiaAssociation of Tobacco Industry in Cambodia (ATIC)An organization of international tobacco companies, such as PMI Houtraco, British American Tobacco Cambodia (BATC) and JTI (Cambodia). JTI rejoined ATIC in 2018, after leaving in 2016 due to complaints that the organization failed in preventing illicit imports in the market. 
IndiaAssociation of Vapers India

A consumer organization that describes itself as an organization that defends the right of tobacco users to harm reduction.

This group actively promotes vaping on social media: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEgd8dgEScqYKKUBHwD1DDQ

It also sent a speaker to the GTNF 2023.

 
IndonesiaAliansi Masyarakat Tembakau Indonesia (AMTI) – Indonesia Tobacco Society Alliance

Created in January 2010, the main objective of AMTI is to provide a forum for tobacco and clove farmers, workers, consumers, retailers, associations, and manufacturers of cigarettes to preserve the Indonesian tobacco industry. In June 2010, AMTI together with the ITGA co-hosted the Asia Tobacco Forum for tobacco growers from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, S. Korea and Thailand. They claim to represent the whole of Asia and drew up 12 recommendations expressing their opposition to a ban on tobacco ingredients and urged Asian governments to work alongside other governments to protect the tobacco growing sector.

AMTI claimed that the proposal for plain packaging of tobacco products will cause a negative impact and threaten the industry, which is an important component of the country’s economy.

 
IndonesiaIndonesia Vapor Entrepreneurs Association (APVI)

APVI was established in 2014 by e-cigarette retailers and importers. APVI has been actively promoting e-cigarettes through various channels, including on social media through Instagram. This organization provides e-cigarette entrepreneurs a platform for lobbying the government to derail efforts on banning e-cigarettes.

In 2021, APVI lobbied for the legalization of vaping in Malaysia.

 
IndonesiaAsosiasi Petani Tembakau Indonesia (APTI) or the Indonesia Tobacco Farmers Association

APTI was formed in 2000. As a front group of the tobacco industry, APTI uses the guise of supporting tobacco farmers to lobby against tobacco control measures. One of APTI’s main activities has been to mobilize tobacco farmers to protest against policies that would reduce smoking rates and the demand for tobacco.

APTI meets with government officials to lobby against increasing tobacco excise tax.

 
IndonesiaAsosiasi Petani Cengkeh Indonesia (APCI) – Indonesian Clove Farmers AssociationAPCI was formed in 2000 to help develop the clove industry in Indonesia. It lobbied against the amendment of the tobacco control law (PP 109/2012) arguing that the clove industry contributes to the government and that livelihood of clove farmers should be protected. 
IndonesiaAsosiasi Vaper Indonesia/Indonesia Vapers Association (AVI)AVI actively campaigns on social media on e-cigarettes. 
IndonesiaGabungan Produsen Rorok Putih Indonesia (GAPRINDO) – The Association of Indonesia White Cigarette Producers.

GAPRINDO represents the transnational tobacco corporations such as PMI, BAT and JTI and routinely opposes tobacco control measures such as excise tax increase on tobacco claiming it will worsen cigarette smuggling problem, supporting a pro-tobacco industry bill in parliament.

GAPRINDO also said that the industry rejected the ratification of the FCTC because it will not just be confined to addressing the dangers of smoking, but will lead to a ban of tobacco consumption and production. Indonesia remains the only country in Southeast Asia that has not ratified the FCTC.

 
IndonesiaGabungan Perserikatan Pabrik Rokok Indonesia (GAPPRI) – Association of Indonesian Cigarette Factory Association.

GAPPRRI actively opposes tobacco control measures and supports measures that promote the tobacco industry. It argues that the cigarette industry would suffer from huge loss because of Government Regulation No. 109 Tahun 2001 about Safety of Addictive Substance in the Form of Tobacco Product to Health.

 

 
IndonesiaGabungan Perusahaan Rokok (GAPERO) – Association of Cigarette Factories

GAPERO actively opposes tobacco tax increases saying the government’s plan to increase excise revenue by more than 10 percent was excessive and that it would bankrupt many tobacco companies. Their claim is that Indonesia will be flooded with illegal cigarettes, both foreign and domestic and this will hurt the industry and government.

In 2015, GAPERO claimed pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs had caused a 3-5 percent decrease in cigarette sales. They warned if the small tobacco business owners were not efficient, they will face challenges and it can even kill the industry.

 
IndonesiaInstitute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF)INDEF is a research and policy studies institution established in August 1995 in Jakarta. INDEF has taken a pro-tobacco industry position in public debates. According to TobaccoTactics, In 2018 INDEF organized several events to protect the tobacco industry. It has publically supported the pro-tobacco bill in Parliament to protect farmers, but which will undermine tobacco control in Indonesia. INDEF has also made press statements that an increase in excise tax will trigger illicit trade in cigarettes – same fear propagated by the tobacco industry. It has also asked the government to find a balance and accommodate both the interests of the state and the interests of cigarette producers.

https://exposetobacco.org/
tobacco-allies/indef-institute
-for-development-of-economics
-and-finance/

https://tobaccotactics.org/article/
Think-Tanks/

IndonesiaKoalisi Indonesia Bebas Tar/Indonesia Tar-Free Coalition (KABAR)

KABAR (Indonesia Tar-Free Coalition) is a coalition of health professional organizations founded in 2017 by Public Health Observer Foundation (YPKP), Indonesia Dentists Association (PDGI), Indonesia Community Medicine Physicians and Public Health Association (PDK3MI), and Indonesia Oncologists Association (POI).Two other organizations, the Indonesian Vapor Entrepreneurs Association (APVI), and Tar-Free Foundation, according to the information from media reports are also known as KABAR founders.

YPKP is known for its aggressive promotion of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. Meanwhile, PDK3MI from time to time appeared in the media touting the benefits of nicotine and alternative tobacco products as a solution to reducing smoking prevalence.

 
IndonesiaPaguyuban Mitra Produksi Sigaret Indonesia (MPSI) – Cigarette Manufacturing AssociationMPSI campaigned against Indonesia’s ratification of the FCTC, stating that under the treaty kretek will be prohibited, adding that 95% of cigarettes in Indonesia are kretek (clove cigarettes). PMSI stated that the FCTC was part of the hidden agenda from foreign parties to kill Indonesia’s tobacco manufacturing industry. 
IndonesiaPaguyuban Petani Pedagang Tembakau Magelang (P3TM) – Association of Tobacco Farmers and Traders of MegelangA farmer and traders’ organization which voices out against tobacco control policies. It threatened against not paying taxes or boycotting the election if tobacco control measures, such as banning kretek cigarettes, will be implemented. 
IndonesiaPeratuan Perusahaan Rokok Kudus (PPRK) – Cigarette Company Association of KudusPPRK together with other groups, protested against the revision of Indonesia’s tobacco control policy (PP 109/2012). 
IndonesiaYayasan Pemerhati Kesehatan Publik/Public Health Observer Foundation (YPKP)

Public Health Observer Foundation (YPKP) is a civil society organization founded in 2015 by 3 dentists from the University of Padjadjaran.

The pioneers of the foundation are behind the relentless pro-vaping campaign in Indonesia by spreading misleading research conclusions to support the campaign.

There is no hard evidence linking YPKP with the tobacco industry. However, the Indonesia Tar-Free Coalition (KABAR) that was founded by this organization is received funding from Sampoerna.

The organization has been active with international events such as the Asia Harm Reduction Forum from 2017 to 2019.

 
Hong KongFactasia

Factasia.org is a Hong Kong-based independent consumer advocacy group working across the Asia-Pacific region. The organization states on its website that it does not speak for or represent the tobacco industry. Instead, its mission is to promote consumer voices in Asia. However, factasia.org is known to promote industry-proposed and industry-led regulations for electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and heated tobacco products (HTPs) in Asia.

Despite the organization’s claims that they do not represent the tobacco industry, their supporters include transnational tobacco company Philip Morris International and international pro-ENDS/HTPs group the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA), as stated on their website.

https://tobaccotactics.org/article/
factasia/
MalaysiaDatametrics Research and Information Centre Sdn Bhd (DARE)

DARE  emerged in Malaysia in 2021 pushing harm reduction in the media and making a case to “embrace” e-cigarettes. It claims to be a think tank that performs “data gathering, strategic analysis and advocacy platform for businesses and industries.”

DARE’s website shows it has only two publications, both favorable to the tobacco industry.

https://exposetobacco.org/
wp-content/uploads/Updated
_New_Voices.pdf
MalaysiaKelantan Tobacco Growers and Curers Association (PITAS)The group claims to represent the tobacco growers and actively opposed adoption of FCTC Article 9 & 10 Guidelines in 2010.https://seatca.org/dmdocuments/
TI%20front%20groups%20fact%
20sheet.pdf
MalaysiaInstitute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS)

IDEAS, a Malaysian think tank founded in 2010, describes itself as an independent research institute committed to promoting research-backed solutions to public policy challenges.

Since 2015, IDEAS has started publically voicing strong opposition to tobacco control measures in the mass media, at national and international fora and communications to international agencies. Its position on tobacco is reflective of the tobacco industry’s positions. It has vigorously opposed plain packaging, excise tax increase, and regulation of e-cigarettes. Between 2017 – 2019 it received funds from Japan Tobacco Inc. and Philip Morris International.

https://exposetobacco.org/
tobacco-allies/institute-for-
democracy-and-economic-
affairs-idea/
MalaysiaMalaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General AssociationThe association opposed the policy for 100% smoke-free restaurants. In 2023, it also voiced its opposition against the Generational End Game (GEG) policy, stating that “tabling of the Bill shouldn’t be rushed as it would do more harm than good as well as defeating the intended objective of reducing the smoking prevalence.” 
MyanmarEuropean Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham)EuroCham established the Anti-Illicit Trade Group which coordinates consultation meetings with the government. It has partnered with Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT), a recipient of PMI-IMPACT’s funding to conduct anti-smuggling projects. 
MyanmarMyanmar Cheroot Manufacturers and Distributors AssociationAccording to a World Bank report, in 2018 the Cheroot Manufacturers and Distributors Association successfully lobbied for the reduction of special goods tax (SGT) on cheroots.  
New ZealandCenter of Research Excellence on Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking (COREISS)

Company based in New Zealand, established in 2018. COREISS has a grant from the Foundation for Smoke Free World (FSFW).

COREISS sent a speaker to the GTNF 2023.

 
PhilippinesAmerican Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines

The AmCHam acts as a lobby group for the tobacco industry and a conduit for its charity and events.

It fought efforts by legislators to reduce tobacco consumption by raising taxes on cigarettes.

https://seatca.org/new-report-
details-how-u-s-chamber-of-
commerce-helps-tobacco-industry
-fight-life-saving-policies/
PhilippinesCaucus for Philippine CompetitivenessOpposed tobacco tax reforms in the country  
PhilippinesFederation of Free FarmersEstablished in 1966, FFF describes itself as the largest organization of rural workers in the Philippines and seeks to improve the economic position of farmers. However, like PTGA, it has advocated for the positions of the tobacco industry in opposing tax reforms and preventing excise tax increase and pushing for the inclusion of industry representatives in the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC. 
PhilippinesFederation of Philippine Industries (FPI)

FPI describes itself as the voice of the industry. It is an umbrella organization of 13 domestic industries, including tobacco companies.  It created Fight Illicit Trade (Fight IT), which is a multi-sectoral movement  aiming to fight against smuggling of products.

It opposed tobacco tax increase, arguing that such measure will increase smuggling.

 
PhilippinesMinimal Government ThinkersOpposed tobacco tax reforms and e-cigarette regulations in the country, opposed plain packaging, pushed for the Vape bill. 
PhilippinesNational Federation of Tobacco Farmers Associations and CooperativesOpposed tobacco tax reforms in the country  
PhilippinesNicotine Consumer of the PhilippinesCampaigned against banning e-cigarettes in the country. The president of NCUP is also president of ProYosi. 
PhilippinesPeople’s Coalition Against Regressive TaxationThe group opposed the Sin Tax Bill. 
PhilippinesPhilippine Association of Supermarkets, Inc. (PASI)PASI opposed the Sin Tax bill, arguing that the amended excise tax bill on tobacco and alcohol products will lead to a significant reduction in sales volume once it is implemented. 
PhilippinesPhilippine E-cigarette Industry Association (PECIA)

Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) registered in 2013. The association identifies itself as a trade association composed of store owners, suppliers, and manufacturers of electronic cigarettes and related products in the Philippines.

PECIA regularly attends congressional hearings and campaigns against e-cigarette regulations and opposed higher excise tax on e-cigarettes.

 
PhilippinesPhilippine Tobacco Growers Association

Opposed tobacco tax reforms in the country

Actively campaigns against tobacco control in the media.

 
PhilippinesPhilippine Tobacco Institute (PTI)PTI is an association of tobacco companies in the Philippines. It represents tobacco companies in the Inter-Agency Committee-Tobacco, established by Republic Act No. 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act). It has challenged the IAC-T in court, as well as the DOH, FDA, and LGUs. It has opposed tobacco tax reforms and other tobacco regulations. 
PhilippinesProYosiOpposed tobacco and e-cigarette tax reforms in the country. The president of ProYosi is also president of NCUP.https://tobaccotactics.org/
article/proyosi/
PhilippinesTrade Union Congress of the PhilippinesTUCP opposed tobacco tax reforms in the country  
PhilippinesQuit for Good

Quit for Good has released several statements criticizing the World Health Organization’s stance on e-cigarettes, calling on WHO to modernize its tobacco control strategy, and urging the COP to implement “tobacco harm reduction.”

 
South KoreaKorea Electronic Cigarette Association

The Korea Electronic Cigarette Association challenged  the Ministry of Health and Welfare on the constitutionality of their guidance to the public to stop using e-cigarettes until a safety management system is in place. The Constitutional court ruled in favor of the ministry.

KECA participated in the GTNF 2023

https://www.tobaccocontrollaws.org/
litigation/decisions/korea-electronic-cigarette-association-v-ministry-of-health-and-welfare
ThailandEnd Cigarette Smoke Thailand (ECST)

A coalition working to promote e-cigarettes in Thailand. Although there is no evidence of direct connections between ECST and the tobacco industry, ECST works closely with other organizations that have industry connections, such as the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO). INNCO is a grantee of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW), and the FSFW in turn is funded by Philip Morris International (PMI).

It has been actively campaigning to legalize e-cigarettes in Thailand.

 
ThailandThai Tobacco Growers, Curers, and Dealers Association

Thai Tobacco Growers, Curers, and Dealers Association is backed by tobacco companies, and has attempted to stop tobacco control measures in Thailand. It also opposed the government’s efforts to increase pictorial health warnings size on cigarette packs

 
ThailandTobacco Curers Development AssociationThe group is asking the Tobacco Authority of Thailand (TOAT) and the Finance Ministry to review the tax structure as the current structure and increase in cigarette prices is negatively affecting their industry. 
ThailandPetchaboon Burley Tobacco Farm AssociationMet with representatives from five political parties to discuss the effect of the new tax rate on tobacco farmers and supported the postponement of excise tax hike on cigarettes in 2019. 

STATE-OWNED COMPANY/ STATE AGENCY

Country

Name

Notes

Additional information

Lao PDR

Lao Tobacco Limited (LTL)

In 2001, a 25-year Investment License Agreement was signed in Lao PDR, which established the Lao Tobacco Limited.

LTL is currently the largest tobacco company in Lao PDR with a cigarette market share of 77.3%. The ILA also grants LTL tax incentives (i.e. a tax holiday and low tax rates) to grow its business investment in the country. Although intended to boost foreign investment in Lao PDR, the longer-term impact on the economy and well-being in this developing country has been negative.

 

Philippines

National Tobacco Administration (NTA)

An agency that is under the Department of Agriculture, NTA was established with the following mandates:

(1)   Improve the economic and living conditions and raise the quality of life of the tobacco farmers including those who depend upon the industry for their livelihood; and

(2)   Promote the balanced and integrated growth and development of the tobacco industry to help make agriculture a solid base for industrialization.

 

Thailand

Tobacco Authority of Thailand (TAOT)

The Tobacco Authority of Thailand (TAOT), formerly called the Thai Tobacco Monopoly (TTM), is a state-owned enterprise registered as a government agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance in Thailand. TAOT operates in the tobacco production and distribution business.

 

Vietnam

Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation (VINATABA)

Vietnam’s tobacco industry currently consists of 30 companies consolidated under six corporations. These corporations are invested in diverse industries, but tobacco production and trading are their major businesses

 

BUSINESS GROUPS (REGIONAL)

Name

Notes

Additional information

US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC)

US-ASEAN Business Council is a prominent American trade organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the American private sector in the markets of Southeast Asia.

It has Philip Morris International as one of its member and has received donations from the tobacco company. In May 17-21, 2021, US-ABC, with its members, including Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation, met with members of the Philippine House of Representatives.

 

EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC)

EU-ASEAN Business Council  is a trade organization composed of multinational corporations, including Philip Morris International.

In 2020, TRACIT has partnered with EU-ABC to release a report on the growing problem of illicit trade in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

 

ASEAN Intellectual Property Association

One of the organizations that supported the tobacco industry’s arguments against plain packaging.

 

Property Rights Alliance (PRA)

PRA was established in Washington in 2009 and defines its mission as an advocacy organization committed to safeguarding both physical and intellectual rights, both in the US and internationally. The primary focus is the preservation of intellectual property.

PRA has a long history of partnership with the tobacco industry, including Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds. It has lobbied against plain packagingand for e-cigarettes.

https://tobaccotactics.org/article/property-rights-alliance/

 

International Trademark Association (INTA)

INTA describes itself as a global association of brand owners and professionals with the aim of supporting trademarks and complementary intellectual property.

In its 2017 annual report, it stated that it opposes “counter legislative initiatives on brand restrictions” and submitted letters to governments of Hong Kong, Thailand, and Taiwan on plain packaging and brand restrictions for tobacco products.

https://tobaccotactics.org/article/international-trademark-association/

 

INTERNATIONAL

Name

Notes

Additional information

International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations (INNCO)

INNCO received funds from the PMI-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World to support harm reduction strategies. It provided funds to INNCO Denmark to “garner consensus and support for COP9 to consider harm reduction as integral to tobacco control.”

https://tobaccotactics.org/article/international-network-of-nicotine-consumer-organisations-innco/

International Tobacco Growers Association

An organization that claims to represent the interest of tobacco growers around the world. However, the group was created and funded by the tobacco companies as a front group to serve as an agricultural lobby.

 

International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC)

ITIC, is a Washington DC based institution whose sponsors include the major transnational tobacco companies, Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT) and JT International (JTI).

The ITIC has conducted research on illicit tobacco trade in Asian countries in 2013 and 2014 funded by PMI. ITIC’s research was done according to agreed terms of reference provided by Philip Morris Asia Ltd.

https://tobaccotactics.org/article/international-tax-and-investment-center-a-history-of-tobacco-industry-facilitation/

Oxford Economics

Oxford Economics, (OE), is a UK-based research institute which co-authored the two research on illicit tobacco trade in Asian countries together with ITIC in 2013 and 2014, both sponsored by Philip Morris International. The research was conducted according to agreed terms of reference provided by Philip Morris Asia Ltd. OE has been actively promoting the PMI funded research to ASEAN countries.

https://tobaccotactics.org/article/oxford-economics/

SoVape Association

A France-based group that actively promotes vaping on social media

Also see: 14-sovape-reassuring-the-public-is-a-public-health-imperative

 

La Vape du Coeur

The group actively promotes vaping on social media.

 

UK Vaping Industry Association

The group describes itself as the “country’s leading forum for supporting, developing and promoting the £1bn vaping industry” and was established in September 2016.

UKVIA is composed of small independent e-cigarette manufacturers and four major tobacco companies – Japan Tobacco International, British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, and Imperial Tobacco.

 

Panama Association for the Reduction of Damage by Tobacco Use (ARDTP)

ARDTP filed a case in the High Court against the government of Panama for the ban on e-cigarettes.

 

Americans for Tax Reform and the Tholos Foundation

The group released an informational packet on THR aimed at policy makers.

It sent a speaker to the GNTF 2023.

 

Democracy Institute

Democracy Institute disseminated a study on graphic health warnings in 2006 was funded by Imperial Tobacco.

It sent a speaker to the GNTF 2023.

https://tobaccotactics.org/article/democracy-institute/

Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA)

CASAA is actively campaigning on social media about e-cigarettes. It published a video debunking vaping myths

It sent a speaker to the GTNF 2023.

 

Health Diplomats

Health Diplomats commissioned a report on The Swedish Experience: A roadmap for a smoke-free society. One of the report’s authors, Delon Human, a South African doctor who has a history of collaborating with BAT on harm reduction.

It sent a speaker to the GTNF 2023.

 

Idwala Research

Idwala Research criticized the WHO for its report on e-cigarettes.

The group was contracted by FSFW to prepare the Tobacco Transformation Index.

It has a current grant with FSFW to “develop a waste management protocol for reduce risk products to be used in the UK and serve as a blueprint for global use.”

It sent a speaker to the GTNF 2023

 

EUK Consulting

EUK Consulting is a public affairs consultancy, with specialization in regulation, corporate reputation, and stakeholders relationship. It has BAT as a current client and sent a speaker to the GTNF 2023.