Tobacco industry engaging agriculture ministers in Sri Lanka
 
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1
Centre for Combating Tobacco, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
2
Alcohol and Drug Information Center (ADIC), Sri Lanka
3
Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Public Health, Sri Lanka
4
University of Bath, Tobacco Control Research Group, United Kingdom
Publish date: 2018-03-01
 
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A101
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ABSTRACT
Background:
In recent years, media reported joint activities of Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC), the British American Tobacco (BAT) subsidiary holding cigarette manufacturing monopoly in Sri Lanka, and the Agriculture Ministers (Ministers). CTC is the only BAT subsidiary in the region that engages in a complete leaf to manufacture process in cigarette manufacturing. Tobacco needed in manufacturing was cultivated in Sri Lanka for the past decade. The Ministry of Agriculture is the government authority over agricultural activities and the Minister is the de facto decision maker on agricultural policy development and implementation. The study aimed to explore the engagement of Ministers of Agriculture in activities of CTC from 2000 onwards.

Methods:
The study used a qualitative design on data obtained via participatory methods. Media reports and industry documents (reports, press releases and shareholder presentations) were identified using Ministers' names as key words. Photographs and other community level documentary evidence were obtained from the tobacco control activists via an open invitation. Data were analysed using a deductive content analysis on themes; government and political party, type of activity, the possible impact to the community and industry and extent and context of media coverage received.

Results:
During the period, four individuals, all males, belonging to three political parties and four governments, served as Agriculture Ministers. All participated in activities organised by the CTC. All activities were under the label "Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme", the social investment initiative of CTC. The type of activities were visiting farmers, attending award ceremonies for farmers or their children and attending ceremonial openings of infrastructure developed under CTC sponsorship. Most were conducted jointly with the Ministry or the local governments and all received positive media coverage.

Conclusions:
Ceylon Tobacco used corporate social investment activities to engage Agriculture Ministers and the ministry, receiving wide positive media coverage in the process.

eISSN:1617-9625