The International Monetary Fund and tobacco: a product like any other?

Int J Health Serv. 2009;39(4):789-93. doi: 10.2190/HS.39.4.l.


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has promoted the lifting of trade restrictions on tobacco and the privatization of state-owned tobacco industries as part of its loan conditions. Growing evidence shows that tobacco industry privatization stimulates tobacco consumption and smoking prevalence in borrowing countries. Privatized tobacco companies make favorable tobacco control policies a condition of their investment and lobby aggressively against further control measures. This, along with increased efficiency of the private sector, leads to increases in marketing, substantial reductions in excise taxes, drops in cigarette prices, and overall rises in sales of cigarettes. The actions of the IMF have therefore led to substantially greater use of tobacco, a product that kills half of its consumers when used as intended, with little evidence of economic gain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Commerce / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Developing Countries
  • Financial Support*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Tobacco Industry* / organization & administration
  • United Nations*