World Health Organization unveils ironic ‘Stop The Lies’ campaign

The selective critique of Big Tobacco by the World Health Organization sparks questions about Big Pharma’s role as an even larger and more powerful player in the health policy arena.

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The World Health Organization launched a “Stop The Lies” campaign last week that ironically fails to criticize itself.

The campaign, geared toward Big Tobacco, is meant to highlight how the tobacco industry influences public health policies.

The WHO press release states that this is a “vital initiative to protect young people from the tobacco industry and their deadly products” in which they call for an “end to tobacco industry interference in health policy.”

On X (formerly Twitter), the WHO attempts to expose Big Tobacco’s deceptive tactics using the hashtag #TobaccoExposed. The organization details how the industry invests billions to influence public health policies, feigns commitment to a smoke-free world, funds questionable science for sustainability optics, and supports front groups opposing tobacco control laws.

In a painful inability to see beyond Big Tobacco, the WHO says that it supports young people who demand governments protect them from the deadly industry. The WHO points out that the tobacco industry lies to the public and spreads misinformation through the investments and tactics mentioned above.

But the irony is not lost on many. As the WHO passionately condemns Big Tobacco for manipulating health policies, it seems to suffer from a selective lack of introspection as the campaign's principles can be applied more powerfully to an even larger and influential player in the health policy arena—Big Pharma.

How does the pharmaceutical industry, along with global health organizations like the WHO, and non-government agencies such as the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, leverage their substantial resources and power to shape public health policies and influence population compliance?

As the WHO highlights the dangers of "unchecked" tobacco tactics, one can't help but wonder: When, will they do the same for Big Pharma? Or is it too much of a sacred cow?

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