Launch of UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2023


The latest edition of the UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index (UKTI) was published this Tuesday (the 14th). The UKTI is part of the Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index, which ranks 90 countries worldwide, up from 80 in 2021.

The UK scored 48 out of a possible 100, compared to a score of 32 in 2021, where a higher score means greater tobacco industry interference. Globally, the UK has fallen to 21st place, having been ranked third in 2021, fourth in 2020 and first in 2019.

The 2023 UKTI was produced by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath and was led by Dr Raouf Alebshehy with input from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), ASH Scotland, ASH Wales and Cancer Research UK. It covers the period between April 2021 and March 2023.

‘Our research highlights a sharp increase in tobacco companies and associated organisations interfering with health policy making. This is coupled with a lack of awareness and lack of implementation of measures protecting public health from interference.’ — Dr Raouf Alebshehy, lead author

This year’s index highlights several areas of concern, including a lack of transparency across government about its interactions with the tobacco industry; and a wide range of unnecessary interactions between government officials, including senior ministers, and tobacco companies.

The policy brief that accompanies the UKTI makes eight recommendations to improve the UK’s performance. These include the introduction of a legally binding and publicly accessible register that covers all lobbying and policy influence activity across UK administrations; and a renewed commitment to addressing conflicts of interest by prohibiting the tobacco industry from making contributions (monetary or otherwise) to political parties and public officials at all levels.

“If the UK implements these simple and cost-effective measures, it can regain its leadership in the global ranking, eliminate tobacco industry interference and promote greater public health,” said Tom Gatehouse, a co-author of the report.

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