SWITZERLAND: Former ambassador Thomas Borer lobbies for the Juul e-cigarette in Geneva

SWITZERLAND: Former ambassador Thomas Borer lobbies for the Juul e-cigarette in Geneva

While the controversy around the sponsorship of Philip Morris at the Dubai expo rages in Switzerland, the former ambassador Thomas Borer lobbies international organizations in Geneva for Juul, a company specializing in e-cigarettes linked to the big tobacco company.

Ilona Kickbusch - Professor at the Graduate Institute


Last week, the American group Philip Morris International and the Confederation have angered the WHO, the Federal Office of Public Health and many NGOs, because the big tobacco company will be the main sponsor of the Swiss Pavilion at the Dubai World Expo in 2020.

Parliament will look into this matter at the beginning of the school year. It shows that cigarette manufacturers, whether electronic or conventional, are still very active in public relations. But sponsoring is only the visible part of their activities. For example, underground, the tobacco lobby has for some time been trying to make its way into international Geneva.

This Swiss Pavilion affair, funded by the world's leading cigarette company, does not surprise everyone. So, Ilona Kickbusch, a professor at the Graduate Institute and a long-time collaborator at the World Health Organization, observes the growing influence of Philip Morris in International Geneva: " There have been approaches to several categories of actors, at the academic level, at the level of nations, at institutes, or even at the UN itself.", She revealed in the program Tout un monde de la RTS.

« Now that the industry is making new products [like the electronic cigarette], it's part of their new strategy to want to come back to the family She says.

For Philip Morris, the challenge is to integrate the current discussions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The multinational has also benefited from a boost from the UN boss in Geneva, Michael Moller : just before leaving his post, he sent a letter to the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres by asking him to integrate the tobacco giants in future discussions.

Thomas Borer, Ex-Ambassador and Lobbyist for Juul

« I found it very strange. I wonder why a departing UN official feels the need to lobby for greater involvement of the tobacco industry in health policies. There is a strong international standard that excludes this industry from such discussions, and there is a very good reason for this: the goals of tobacco are totally inconsistent with those of public health", Reacted strongly Chris Bostic, vice-director at Action Smoking and Health, an international group of associations for restricting access to cigarettes.

In the field, it is particularly Thomas Borer, the former ambassador of Switzerland to Germany and the man of the task force for Jewish funds in the nineties, who is responsible for passing the messages of the tobacco industry to Geneva International. He is lobbying for the young California company Juul. It sells electronic cigarettes and landed in Europe and Switzerland after winning, in two years, 75% of the US market for vaping. Altria, which is Philip Morris in the United States, holds one-third of its capital.

Juul is accused by the US health authorities of spreading an epidemic of nicotine addiction among young people and is now under heavy criticism from Congress. While he was ready to speak on the RTS to explain his mandate to Juul, the latter finally refused any interview at the last moment.

source : Rts.ch/

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About the Author

Editor and correspondent Switzerland. Vapoteuse for many years, I take care mainly of Swiss news.