This step has been taken to discourage usage of tobacco and work towards building a healthy country
India along with the governments of 181 countries has decided to keep the ‘Tobacco Industry’ out of the global tobacco treaty to ensure that it has no access to any conference or meeting to influence government or corporate sector. This step has been taken to discourage usage of tobacco and work towards building a healthy country.
“At the conclusion of the eighth session of the global tobacco treaty negotiations, countries unanimously adopted policies that eliminate loopholes Tobacco Industry has exploited to gain access to the talks, redouble defenses against evolving industry tactics, and mandated a study on new tobacco products” said Bobby Ramakant, who was part of Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) leadership at this meet while speaking to Sulabh.
“The negotiations were under constant assault as Tobacco Industry attempted to undermine the talks by stacking government delegations, commandeering industry front groups, lobbying countries, posing as the media and employing other means to interfere with policies that would save lives and reduce tobacco consumption” added Bobby Ramakant, who is also part of Corporate Accountability in Boston as well as Vote For Health campaign of Asha Parivar.
For years, the tobacco industry has manipulated transparency guidelines in attempts to delay, weaken, or block the treaty’s progress. Today, Parties adopted landmark good governance policy that eliminates these loopholes, shutting out the industry and protecting the treaty from interference.
“The tobacco industry is the single greatest barrier to tobacco control policies globally—and these negotiations were no exception,” said Michél Legendre, associate campaign director at Corporate Accountability. “We applaud delegates who stood up to the industry and rejected its rhetoric. It’s thanks to them that governments have now adopted precedent-setting measures that will protect millions of people’s lives.”
Parties not only eliminated Big Tobacco’s last entryways into the talks, but they also expanded the treaty’s firewall policies that protect public health policymaking from the influence of emerging industry tactics. The adopted policy includes language to expose and counteract public relations schemes like the Philip Morris International-funded foundation and calls on all institutions to reject partnerships with industry-funded groups, among other measures.
“Big Tobacco will stop at nothing to try to undermine the lifesaving measures of the treaty,” said Hellen Neima, Uganda-based tobacco control legal consultant. “Today, we made great strides to keep the industry where it belongs: outside of the talks and away from public health policy.”
“This deadly industry may claim it’s turning a new leaf, but we aren’t falling for its latest scam,” said Behzad Valizadeh, a delegate for Iran which has taken pre-emptive action to ban emerging tobacco products such as Philip Morris International’s IQOS. “Big Tobacco tries to confuse, sow doubt, and derail policy with its PR stunts, but governments around the world are rejecting its attempts.”
“We made history this week,” added Hassan Mohamed, a delegate of Maldives, “With this, we are shutting the door on Big Tobacco and opening a new frontier of tobacco control.”
Parties also called on the Secretariat to fulfill its directive and provide governments with the necessary resources to hold the tobacco industry civilly and criminally liable for its abuses -- a potent tool for countries to advance tobacco control.
“Soon, Parties will have the tools they need to make Big Tobacco pay,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, Deputy Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FOEN). “Liability actions will unlock the unlimited potential to transform the way this industry, and other corporations operate globally.”
Tobacco-related illness remains the number one cause of preventable death in the world, and casting out the tobacco industry, which drives the epidemic, could provide precedent for insulating other policy-making spaces. This includes corporations that drive environmental and public health harms. For example, in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, there are no checks on the fossil fuel industry’s influence. And their obstruction has been at the core of the talks for the past three years.
The decisions adopted by Parties will shape the implementation of the treaty, formally known as the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), for the next two years and beyond. The treaty, which entered into force in 2005, contains the world’s most effective tobacco control and corporate accountability measures—estimated to save more than 200 million lives by 2050 if fully implemented.
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