Shared vision, shared vulnerability: A content analysis of corporate social responsibility information on tobacco industry websites

Prev Med. 2016 Aug:89:337-344. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.05.033. Epub 2016 May 31.


Tobacco companies rely on corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to improve their public image and advance their political objectives, which include thwarting or undermining tobacco control policies. For these reasons, implementation guidelines for the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommend curtailing or prohibiting tobacco industry CSR. To understand how and where major tobacco companies focus their CSR resources, we explored CSR-related content on 4 US and 4 multinational tobacco company websites in February 2014. The websites described a range of CSR-related activities, many common across all companies, and no programs were unique to a particular company. The websites mentioned CSR activities in 58 countries, representing nearly every region of the world. Tobacco companies appear to have a shared vision about what constitutes CSR, due perhaps to shared vulnerabilities. Most countries that host tobacco company CSR programs are parties to the FCTC, highlighting the need for full implementation of the treaty, and for funding to monitor CSR activity, replace industry philanthropy, and enforce existing bans.

Keywords: Corporate social responsibility; Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; Tobacco industry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • International Cooperation / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Internet*
  • Public Health
  • Smoking / economics
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Tobacco Industry / ethics*
  • Tobacco Industry / standards*
  • World Health Organization