Our tobacco map, which is exposing different strategies of the tobacco industry, has a new category: greenwashing.

Greenwashing refers to the strategy of companies in controversial industries to show themselves as responsible players and to create an environmentally friendly image. Tobacco companies and their associations are no exception. By greenwashing, they aim to secure social acceptance through positive reporting and to divert public attention from the damage that the companies’ core business inflicts on the environment and health.[1]

For example, tobacco companies publicly support environmental projects such as clean-ups in countries where tobacco is consumed or reforestation in countries where tobacco is grown. They receive great appreciation for this and establish new contacts with politicians on site, or maintain existing ones. In the respective countries, political decision-makers thus get into conflict when it comes to tobacco control and health decisions.[2]

A popular way for tobacco companies to present themselves in green guise is by sponsoring clean-ups in cities or on beaches, cooperating with clean-up initiatives, and generously providing pocket ashtrays for environmentally conscious smokers.

With green campaigns, umbrella organizations like the German Association of the Tobacco Industry and New Products (BVTE) address the littering problem and show public commitment to environmental protection, while shifting the responsibility to consumers.

Tobacco companies like BAT Bangladesh have been running reforestation projects or clean drinking water projects for years in tobacco growing areas, where they have caused deforestation and water pollution at the same time, and get a lot of recognition from politicians for this.

These new entries in the Greenwashing section of the Tobacco Map of strategies give a first insight into the various tactics of the tobacco industry to put on a green guise despite its environmentally damaging core business.

"Greenwashing is primarily used to influence political decision makers, opinion makers, and critical consumers." Lobbypedia