Tobacco greenwashing in environmental, social and governance disclosures
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Smoke Free Partnership
Publication date: 2023-04-25
Corresponding author
Chloé Momas   

Smoke Free Partnership
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2023;9(Supplement):A18
The purpose of this paper is to examine the ways that tobacco companies attempt to utilise environmental, social and governance reports for legitimation, notably through tobacco-sector sustainability disclosure criteria in the European Union (EU).

This paper explores the current challenges in the elaboration of EU tobacco sector-specific non-financial reporting standards in light of the WHO FCTC, notably Articles 5.3 and 13 and the Guidelines. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting frameworks are increasingly used to elaborate rankings featuring the most sustainable businesses. Some place tobacco companies as top-ranking sustainable companies. This allows the tobacco industry to greenwash its image and enhance its license to operate as responsible companies, while the Parties to WHO FCTC have recognised the tobacco industry’s Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) as an inherent contradiction. Current tobacco companies' voluntary ESG reports falsely portray them as socially responsible, which violates Article 13, as well as many countries’ national laws, as tobacco’s so-called CSR is a form of tobacco promotion. This paper specifically focuses on the EU’s current elaboration of tobacco sector-specific disclosure requirements to be made public in soon-to-be compulsory EU companies’ non-financial reports.

Material and Methods:
Descriptive research was carried out through companies’ voluntary ESG reports, international ESG frameworks, EU legal draft texts, juxtaposed against qualitative research (data collection through interviews and document analyses).

The outcome shows that current EU rules on tobacco-sectorial ESG disclosure requirements face several layers of transparency hurdles -as per their content as well as through their elaboration-, including conflicts of interest and infringements to Article 5.3 WHO FCTC.

The author declares no conflict of interest.
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