RESIST TOBACCO INDUSTRY INTERFERENCE
6/1/2012 1:35:21 PM -
VALD URGES GOVERNMENT AS THE WORLD CELEBRATE WORLD NO-TOBACCO DAY (WNTD) WHICH FALLS ON THURSDAY, MAY 31ST, 2012 ON THE THEME 'TOBACCO INDUSTRY INTERFERENCE'
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the number of smoking related deaths worldwide has increased from 2.5 million in 1988 to 5 million in 2005 and to 8.5 million this year. And the global cigarette market has also expanded by 23% in 2012 reaching $ 464.4 billion.
The global tobacco industry is expanding its war against public health, beyond national courts and into the international arena. Governments must understand these new threats, and stand together to defend their sovereignty and public health.
Tobacco giants Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT) are providing legal support to two countries, Ukraine and Honduras, which recently launched complaints at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against Australia's new law banning logos and other 'branding' on tobacco packages. While Big Tobacco accelerates its offensive, the WHO has named tobacco industry interference as the theme of World No Tobacco Day.
'As tobacco control takes hold, the industry continues to adjust its bullying tactics so that it can advance its ultimate aim: to hook a future generation of smokers'. 'After attacking public health policies in national courts and via bilateral agreements, they are now enticing governments into doing their dirty work at the World Trade Organization,'
While the tobacco industry broadens its attack internationally, it continues to interfere with individual governments' policy-making. According to VALD's Tobacco Industry monitoring report: '
The tobacco industry was active before and during the public hearing on Ghana's Tobacco Control Measures of the Public Health Bill. Of particular concern are some think tanks and Journalists highly accepted and respected by policy, decision makers and the public are now acting as mouthpiece of the tobacco industry in the media and during discussions.'
However, governments and civil society are resisting the campaign against global public health. The 174 Parties to the FCTC recently declared that in order to counter the industry's attacks ' Parties to the Convention are determined to give priority to their right to protect public health, due to the devastating worldwide health, social, economic and environmental consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
It is of topmost interest for public health to ensure that, the tobacco industry does not interfere in the consideration stage of Ghana's Public Health Bill by Parliament. The call for designation of smoking areas or rooms by British American Tobacco Ghana does not provide effective protection to the public and workers from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke.
Internal British America Tobacco (BAT) documents reveal that the company knew that air filtration and ventilation systems were ineffective yet still promoted the technology as a viable option to smoking restrictions. According to the documents, BAT's interest in ventilation systems was primarily 'to negate the need for indoor smoking bans around the world.'
In unity lies strength; as such a united stand amongst Parliamentarians, the Ministry of Health, civil society organizations and the media against the tobacco industry's tactics is essential and will result in ensure that governments are not intimidated into delaying implementation of the tobacco control measures.
Parliament must therefore pass the Public Health Bill into law as soon as possible to protect public health. TOBACCO KILLS