José María Aznar

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José María Aznar is the former Prime Minister and President of Spain, in office as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2004 and President from 2004 to 2016.1 Since 2018, it has been widely reported by the international media that Aznar has taken a position as a lobbyist for Philip Morris International (PMI) in Latin America.234


Aznar began his career in the People’s Party of Spain in 1989 and had a long career in politics.1

  • President of Spain (2004-2016)
  • Prime Minister of Spain (1996-2004)
  • President of the People’s Party, the main conservative party of Spain (1990-2004)

Several other posts including:

  • Member of the Board of Directors of News Corp, media conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch (2013-on going)5
  • Member of International Advisory Board Barrick Gold (2011- on going)6
  • Founder of Friends of Israel Initiative (2010-on going)7
  • President of the think-tank Fundación para el Análisis y los Estudios Sociales (FAES) – The Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis (1989-on going)8

Image 1: Records of public hearing in Chile on E-Cigarettes Aznar9

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry


During his terms in office and thereafter, Aznar has been criticised for having an open-door policy with the tobacco industry.10 The major Spanish newspaper El Pais published articles about the ties between Aznar and El Club del Fumador,11 a non-profit organisation funded by Philip Morris International which promotes the right to smoke and use tobacco products. This organisation is part of a network that includes the tobacco industry funded groups Forest and the World Smokers Resistance, among others. According to El Pais, Aznar met with members of this organisation when in office, at el Palacio de la Moncloa, the official residence of the Prime Minister of Spain.11

In 1998, Aznar led the privatisation of Tabacalera, the tobacco company owned by the Spanish Government since the 17th century.12 He appointed one of his close friends to handle the privatization process, the former president of Telefonica, Cesar Alierta.13

Imperial Tobacco bought the company. Later on, a corruption scandal was uncovered regarding the sale of Tabacalera. Alierta and his family allegedly used confidential information to purchase a large number of Tabacalera’s shares for personal profit.12 The corruption case reached Spain’s Supreme Court in 2007. The Court was criticized for acquitting Alierta and his family, on the grounds that the statute of limitations had run out.14


Image 2: Records of public hearing in Chile May 201815

According to public records from the Government of Chile, Aznar met with the Chilean Minister of Finance, Felipe Larrain Bascuñan and the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Finance, Francisco Matte Risopatrón, on 8 May 2018.(Image 1)9 The meeting lasted 30 minutes, and in the meeting minutes Aznar and the rest of his colleagues are portrayed as ‘interest lobbyists’. The records describe that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss:

“the electronic cigarette market and tax implications. Preparation, dictation, modification, denial or rejection of administrative acts, bills and laws and also decisions taken by taxpayers”9

Chile, following its commitment to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), has adopted regulations that prohibit tobacco product advertising, including smoke-less products, as well as strict rules that government officials must not meet with the tobacco industry or its representatives. The next day, on 9 May 2018, according to public records, Chilean Minister Felipe Larrain Bascuñan met for an hour with a number of lobbyists from different multinational corporations, including two lobbyists for PMI.(Image 2)15 Aznar was not present at this meeting.15


In January 2019, the Congress of the Republic of Peru, began discussions on stricter tobacco product regulations, including a ban on tobacco advertising.16 At the same time, a group of congress representatives from Fuerza Popular, one of the main right-wing parties of Peru, submitted the 3833 bill17 to replace the current tobacco control law 27805 with less restrictive regulations. These proposed amendments would allow the introduction of e-cigarettes in Peru.18

Several newspapers and media outlets reported that Aznar travelled to Peru, in February 2019 on a similar mission to the one in Chile, lobbying for the tobacco industry.19 20 Allegedly, Aznar made an appointment to meet with the Minister of Health but did not attend this meeting. 20

Other TobaccoTactics Resources

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  1. abGobierno de España, Partido Popular, PP José María Aznar López, accessed March 2019
  2. V. Reyes, Expresidente de España hizo lobby con Gobierno buscando vender cigarro electrónico en Chile, BiobioChile, 6 June 2018, accessed March 2019
  3. C.Lopez, Aznar hace lobby por el cigarrillo electrónico para tabacaleras en América, La Vanguardia, 26 February 2016, accessed March 2019
  4. Aznar is lobbying for the electronic cigarette for tobacco companies in America, Spain’s News, February 2019, accessed March 2019
  5. El gigante de la comunicación News Corp sube el sueldo a Aznar un 17%, El Publico, 04 October 2018, accessed April 2019
  6. Biography José María Aznar,José María Aznar website, 2019, accessed March 2019
  7. Balance actividades 2013, José María Aznar website, 31 December 2013, accessed March 2019
  8. Fundación para el Análisis y los Estudios Sociales (FAES), Que es FAES,FAES, 2018, accessed March 2019
  9. abcLey del Lobby, Audiencias-Año 2018-Felipe Larraín Bascuñán – Audiencia AE001AW0461361, Public Record Government of Chile, 8 May 2018, accessed March 2019
  10. J. Mayordomo VICTOR L. GARCÍA-ARANDA CARDIÓLOGO “El tabaco es el único producto autorizado que provoca muertes”, El Pais, 15 November 1999, accessed March 2019
  11. abC. Escola los fumadores y el ‘chivato’, El Pais , 23 January 2000, accessed March 2019
  12. abA. Monzon, El Estado privatizó 52 empresas por más de 30.000 millones con Rato como ministro, El Independiente, 9 February 2017, accessed March 2019
  13. César Alierta, el hombre que consolidó Telefónica, deja los mandos, El Pais, 29 March 2016, accessed March 2019
  14. J.A. Hernandez, El tribunal absuelve a Alierta del ‘caso Tabacalera’ por haber prescrito su delito, El Pais, 18 July 2009, accessed March 2019
  15. abcLey del Lobby, Audiencias-Año 2018-Felipe Larraín Bascuñán- Audiencia AE001AW0437904, Public Record Government of Chile, 9 May 2018, accessed March 2019
  16. Prohibición total de publicidad del tabaco volverá a ser debatida en el Congreso,Gestion, 16 January 2019, accessed March 2019
  17. Ficha de Seguimiento, “Proyecto de Ley 03833/2018-CR “, Congreso Peru, 28 January 2019, accessed March 2019
  18. E. Huerta Cigarro electrónico vs. cigarro tradicional: la historia se repite, El Comercio, 19 March 2019, accessed March 2019
  19. E. Huerta, Cigarrillos electrónicos: la historia se repite, El Comercio, 18 March 2019, accessed March 2019
  20. abC. Lopez, Aznar hace lobby por el cigarrillo electrónico para tabacaleras en América,23 February 2019, accessed March 2019