The Global pushback against tobacco industry ‘greenwashing’

Planet Business: Chaotic airports everywhere, the easing of Shanghai’s 65-day lockdown, and AstraZeneca’s knight

Image of the week: Tobacco threat

At Elliot’s beach in Chennai, India, volunteers prepare a sand sculpture created to raise awareness of World No Tobacco Day, a World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative that has been held on May 31st every year since 1987. This year’s theme was the tobacco industry’s threat to the environment. Not only does tobacco kill more than 8 million people every year but it poisons the planet, the WHO said, further harming human health through its cultivation, production, distribution and consumption and also through post-consumer waste. Rallies were held across India, with marchers’ signs reading “smart folks don’t like smokes” in Chennai and “smoking is choking” in Hyderabad, while in Kolkata, schoolchildren wore skeleton face masks. Apart from quit smoking, the WHO’s message was this: help tobacco farmers switch to other crops, don’t let tobacco companies “greenwash” their image and do make them “clean up their mess”.

In numbers: Shanghai re-opening


Days that China’s “zero Covid” lockdown lasted in Shanghai before the city eased its restrictions this week, tearing down some of the fencing that had appeared on streets in March. The lockdown was originally announced as a nine-day measure.

25 million

Population of Shanghai, most of whom can now become acquainted with the outside world and see their loved ones again. They were thanked for their “support and dedication” in a letter from the city’s government.


Number of residents who remain confined to their homes in “sealed off” zones as a result of recent Covid cases in the area. Those who test positive for the virus continue to be sent to centralised quarantine facilities.

Getting to know: Pascal Soriot

Pascal Soriot, the AstraZeneca chief executive who grew up in France, is now Sir Pascal Soriot, having just been knighted in Queen Elizabeth’s birthday honours – a move made possible by his citizenship of Australia. The reputation of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, might have taken a knock after a study linked it to a higher rate of blood clots and studies showed mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were more effective, but its important early development has still been enough for Soriot to be recognised. The “truly humbled” executive, a doctor of veterinary medicine who joined the pharma industry in 1986, said his knighthood also belonged to the “many outstanding people” he had worked with around the world. Technically, alas, it doesn’t. As for Australia, it might still count the queen as head of state, but only this week new prime minister Anthony “Albo” Albanese appointed an “assistant minister for the republic”.

The list: Airport torture

Without wishing in any way to excuse or minimise the disastrous scenes at Dublin Airport of late, other cities have been vying with the Irish capital for the title of Most Miserable Airport Experience – and that’s just for the passengers. Here are some of the contenders.

1. Amsterdam: Schiphol is a popular connections airport – or, at least, it was before staff shortages led to queue chaos so bad that Dutch airline KLM temporarily suspended new ticket sales.

2. Palma: A Spanish police union warned last month that the Mallorca airport could “collapse” without urgent staff recruitment, with passport control queues there described by island holidaymakers as “a nightmare”.

3. Manchester: German holiday giant TUI cancelled at least 180 flights from Manchester this month, with some would-be passengers making it as far as the departure gates earlier this week before a police officer, in lieu of anyone on the ground from TUI, told them they were going nowhere except home.

4. Birmingham: “Carnage” was the verdict of travellers using the airport in recent days as, in an echo of the fate suffered by some Dublin arrivals, people were forced to wait by the carousels for hours just to get their luggage back.

5. Toronto: At Toronto’s Pearson Airport, people have been busy joining the wrong queues – or lines, as they say in North America – because there is nobody around to direct them into the right ones. Isn’t travel so much fun?