Tobacco CSR, Sustainability Reporting, and the Marketing Paradox

Steven Greenland, Karmen Lužar, David Low

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This chapter critically evaluates global tobacco industry’s self-reported corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability initiatives in relation to marketing practice. It reveals the widespread strategic use of misleading CSR and sustainability reporting to facilitate tobacco promotion, which requires urgent regulatory attention. The sustainable enterprise model provided a framework for evaluating CSR and sustainability performance. Applied to the global tobacco industry, it reveals frequent communications about corporate integrity, government support, and cooperation with regulations. Industry contributions are highlighted across the full spectrum of economic, social, and environmental sustainable development goals (SDGs). Manufacturers’ developed country websites, as well as their global websites, emphasize a commitment to health via the phasing out of traditional tobacco with less harmful alternatives, including e-cigarettes. The critical review of tobacco industry self-reported CSR and sustainability reveals an overarching lack of corporate integrity, as illustrated by widespread misrepresentation of information that misinforms consumer and government perceptions, and influences policy and regulation to maximize tobacco sales. Behind this misleading CSR and sustainability reporting, distinct marketing strategies are deployed by the tobacco industry. In developed countries, such marketing is designed to undermine regulation and maintain dwindling sales. While e-cigarettes are also promoted, they represent less than 5% of the total global industry revenue. In emerging markets with weaker regulations, there is aggressive promotion of tobacco, exposing the sham of industry commitment to global health. Smoking remains the biggest single cause of preventable death, and without effective regulation of CSR and sustainability reporting, and its associated PR, this situation is set to continue.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility
    EditorsDavid Crowther, Shahla Seifi
    Place of PublicationCham
    Number of pages27
    ISBN (Electronic)9783030424657
    ISBN (Print)9783030424640
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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