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Nations unite against tobacco industry’s interference in public health policy

Adapted from: next.com
By Ben Ezeamalu

November 20, 2010 11:43PM
As Uruguay, the host country for this week’s tobacco control treaty meetings prepares for a legal challenge from Philip Morris International (PMI) over the cigarette giant’s graphic cigarette warning labels, 172 parties are uniting behind the country in a declaration adopted on Thursday.

The declaration reaffirms the right of parties to the treaty, “to give priority to their right to public health” over trade, given the “devastating worldwide health, social, economic, and environmental consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.”

“Today, while one deadly corporation disputes the priority of public health over its profits, the global community has begged to differ – taking a unified stand against industry interference and intimidation,” said Gigi Kellett of Corporate Accountability International.

Declaration will assist countries

The declaration proposed by Uruguay, participants say, can immediately assist the country in its case with PMI, not to mention other parties facing similar legal intimidation, industry interference in health policy, and manipulation of the treaty process.

“Uruguay is not alone in its struggle and the legal challenge that spurred this declaration is not the only reason for its being proposed,” said Yul Dorado, Latin America Director for Corporate Accountability International.

“Just this week, the industry has used front groups to bully delegates and mislead the media.”

According to Philip Jakpor of the Network for Tobacco Transnationals and Environmental Rights Action, the declaration is an impetus for countries facing the same hurdles as Uruguay to rema in resolute in their prioritising of health over trade issues.

“We cannot afford to hand over the lives of millions of people to an industry that is only interested in profits even at the cost of lives,” said Mr. Jakpor.

“It has sent dozens of representatives to walk the halls of a treaty meeting it is prohibited from participating in,” Mr. Jakpor continued, “And worse, it has sent delegates to participate directly under the auspices of government agencies. This declaration says enough is enough, we cannot get down to the business of saving lives unless Big Tobacco is directly challenged.”

Other highlights of the declaration include a reaffirmation that health is a fundamental right of every human being and that parties have a sovereign right to protect health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry; a concern regarding the tobacco industry’s current and ongoing efforts to ‘subvert and undermine government policies on tobacco control; encouraging non-parties like the United States to ratify and implement the treaty.

Tobacco interference

A report released earlier in the week by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists had exposed a wide range of tactics employed by the tobacco industry to undermine advances being made by the global tobacco treaty – the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

According to the report, some of the strategies include threats to health policy ranging from aggressive lobbying and legal intimidation, to charitable donations and even outright payoffs.

“A reminder is needed that we are here to devise solutions to save people’s lives,” said Sam Ochieng of the Network for Accountability of Tobacco Trans-nationals and Consumer Information Network, Kenya.

“Progress is not possible if the long arm of industry is able to reach into and manipulate a conversation that rightly excludes Big Tobacco,” said Mr. Ochieng.

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2 Responses to "Nations unite against tobacco industry’s interference in public health policy"

  1. david says:

    makes me want to drink alchoholic beverages

  2. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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