Investigating Twitter Activity Around COP8

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In an article for the British Medical Journal, researchers from the University of Bath’s Tobacco Control Research Group explored Twitter activity around the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The research analysed over 9000 tweets that included #COP8FCTC to gain insight into the tactics, arguments and allies used by the tobacco industry to influence the WHO FCTC via the COP. The investigation found that the largest proportion of most active tweeters were Next Generation Product (NGP) advocates. Over half of those had either links to the Philip Morris International (PMI) funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) and/or to the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO), which is an FSFW grantee. Additionally, the research found that PMI was the most active transnational tobacco company and dominated the Twittersphere throughout COP8.

The article exposes PMI executives and NGP advocates, with links to organisations funded directly and indirectly by PMI, for pushing pro-vaping messages. This tactic of engaging tobacco harm reduction advocates and increasing debate around events such as the COP is consistent with PMI’s 2014 corporate affairs strategy.

The Department for Health at the University of Bath published a press release on the article. Authors of the research paper include Dr. Lindsay Robertson, D. Ayush Joshi, Tess Legg, Georgina Wellock, Katerina Ray and Dr. Karen Evan-Reeves.

You can read the full article here.