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Feature Investigation

Big tobacco, the new politics, and the threat to public health

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 15 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2164

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Heated tobacco and politics: highlights from Italy

As for the strategies of big tobacco companies to foster their business, the political context described by Gornall [1] is somewhat concerning. However, it's quite interesting that links between politicians and lobbies could be traced in detail. In Italy, a “sunshine act” proposal to make financial links between health care professionals and Industry more transparent has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies and is currently being discussed by the Senate for definitive approval.

In the meantime, a couple of weeks ago the Italian Senate has been the stage of a conference on cardiovascular prevention, with the non-conditional support of Philip Morris, discussing among other things the potential benefits of heated tobacco products. Invited experts expressed their interest and support for these products, which can reduce health risks and may help smokers to shift from cigarettes.[2]

We think that risk reduction strategies should be proposed when adequate support from evidence is available, which is not yet the case for heated tobacco products, as highlighted by WHO [3] and by Public Health England.[4] This is especially important when such issues are brought to the attention of politicians in order to avoid the risks of undue lobbying.

1. Gornall J. Big tobacco, the new politics, and the threat to public health. BMJ 2019; 365:l2164 doi: 10.1136/bmj.l2164

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 May 2019
Giulio Formoso
Maria Grazia Celani, Silvia Minozzi, Michela Cinquini, Paola Mosconi, Vanna Pistotti, Teresa Cantisani, Roberto D’Amico
Associazione Alessandro Liberati - Network Italiano Cochrane
Azienda Ospedaliera Santa Maria della Misericordia, Perugia - Italy