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Tobaccogate Continues: The intriguing case of Dentsu Tracking

Anne-Sophie Pelletier MEP, chair of the Parliamentary Working Group on Tobacco, addresses the President of the Commission and the European Ombudsman about the violation of transparency and ethical rules by tobacco lobbyists.

“The parliamentary working group of the European Parliament on tobacco presented, on Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Brussels, the conclusions in the form of a White Paper, of the two years of work and consultation it has conducted, in collaboration with Smoke-Free Partnership (SFP), Alliance Against Tobacco (Alliance Contre le Tabac, ACT), and the University of Bath.

The White Paper notably highlights the links between the European Commission, the tobacco lobby, and Dentsu Tracking, a Swiss company in charge of a European system for tracing tobacco products which is neither compliant with the World Health Organization (WHO) Protocol “to eliminate illicit tobacco trade”, an international treaty ratified by the EU in June 2016, nor effective in light of the increase in tobacco smuggling observed by most Member States since its implementation in 2019.


The White Paper denounces in particular the development of an ad hoc traceability system “tailor-made” for tobacco manufacturers, the rather obscure conditions for awarding the Dentsu Tracking contract reminiscent of the Ursula von der Leyen SMS affair, the conflict of interest characterized by the role and hiring of senior official Jan Hoffmann by Dentsu, the absence of registration of Dentsu Tracking in the EU Transparency Register, and suspicions of corruption.

Surprisingly, Dentsu Tracking was discreetly registered on the Transparency Register on March 4th.

Anne-Sophie Pelletier, Member of the European Parliament and chair of the Parliamentary Working Group on Tobacco sees this late and under-pressure registration as an acknowledgement by Dentsu Tracking of violating transparency and ethical rules.

In parallel, we know now that Dentsu Tracking, whose parent company is currently facing a corruption trial in Japan regarding the organization of the Tokyo Olympics, has decided to engage a consulting firm, APCO Worldwide, known to be one of the external lobbying companies for tobacco manufacturers, notably Philip Morris International (PMI). This is quite an intriguing decision, since Dentsu Tracking continues to proclaim, despite all the evidence stated in the White Paper, its independence from cigarette companies. It is also worth recalling that the CEO of Dentsu Tracking is a former executive of Philip Morris International.

Consultants from APCO Worldwide have indeed approached Anne-Sophie Pelletier to attend the presentation of the White Paper on April 11, without disclosing their contractual ties, neither with Dentsu Tracking nor with the tobacco industry. Anne-Sophie Pelletier denounces this form of intrusion and will refer this to the President of the Commission and the European Ombudsman, notably on the basis of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on regulating tobacco lobbying.

Author: Anne-Sophie Pelletier MEP : chair of the Parliamentary Working Group on Tobacco, [email protected]



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