Countries unite against tobacco industry interference
DURBAN: Today on 22 November 2008, 160 countries agreed on strong new guidelines to block tobacco industry interference in global health policies and the implementation of the global tobacco treaty.
Since it took effect in 2005, implementation of the global tobacco treaty, formally known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), has been systematically obstructed by Big Tobacco. The abuses of corporations like Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco have ranged from attempting to write tobacco control laws, blocking the passage of smoke free legislation, and using so-called "corporate social responsibility" to circumvent ad bans.
Tobacco industry interference has been the number one obstacle to the treaty's implementation, and ratifying countries now see protections against this interference as the backbone of the treaty.
"The tobacco industry has long exploited every opening to perpetuate a preventable epidemic that pads their bottom line," said Kathy Mulvey, international policy director of Corporate Accountability International. "These guidelines will help advocates and public officials begin to slam the door on tobacco industry tactics, and focus on implementing the treaty's lifesaving measures."
The new guidelines are designed to give teeth to Article 5.3 of the treaty which states, "in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law."
The guidelines include the following recommendations, rooted in the principle that the tobacco industry has a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict with public health:
- governments should reject partnerships with the tobacco industry;
- conflicts of interest such as the "revolving door" between the tobacco industry and public health offices, government investments in the tobacco industry and tobacco industry representation on tobacco control bodies should be avoided;
- government interaction with the tobacco industry should be strictly limited and transparent;