Brow Beat

John Oliver Explains Why Big Tobacco Is Still So Big  

Smoking rates have dramatically dipped in America the past few decades, a decline that, in a perfect world, would also mark the slow, prolonged death of Big Tobacco. But as John Oliver points out in his latest reported spiel, tobacco companies are still doing stellar business. Why? The answer lies abroad: places like Indonesia have very few restrictions against smoking, and Big Tobacco now does most its business off booming international sales.

As usual, Oliver’s take is sharp and nuanced: he explores how tobacco’s sustained success makes it “the agricultural equivalent of U2,” and reveals the discouraging bullying tactics Big Tobacco uses to keep smaller, less powerful countries from enacting anti-smoking measures.