New evidence-based research published in the Public Library of Science Medicine on 11 January 2010 by Anna Gilmore and Katherine Smith from the University of Bath, UK, shows that British American Tobacco has, together with a range of other companies, successfully lobbied the EU in relation to the Better Regulation agenda (which includes impact assessment (IA), risk assessment (RA) and stakeholder consultation). This research shows that the aim of their lobbying was to skew the policy-making processes to benefit economic interests over the public interest by focusing on cost-benefit analysis, rather than other methods to evaluate the possible effects of a new policy.

The researchers found that BAT created a policy network of several large companies involved in marketing products that can damage public health or the environment, to promote a lobbying campaign to alter EU policymaking rules. The campaign succeeded in engineering specific changes to EU policy, including a call for the burden of regulation on businesses to be eased, and ultimately gave rise to the current system of business-oriented impact assessment, Smith wrote.

The research is based on hundreds of internal BAT documents that were released as a consequence of a series of litigation cases in the United States. Public officials were often unaware of the magnitude of BAT’s influence, the researchers wrote, possibly because the corporate campaign used third parties such as think tanks and consultants.

The PLoS study noted that by law, virtually all new policies proposed in the EU must undergo an impact assessment — a review of the potential economic, social and environmental consequences.

The outcome of impact assessments is heavily influenced by the method used, the researchers said, with assessment tools focusing on economic impacts tending to favor regulation which increases business profits, even if such policies could undermine public health.

For Further Information

The report is available here

To read the EU Observer’s article, please click here.

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Last modified on January 29 2010.