The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Media Releases

ILO to Reconsider Cooperation with Tobacco Industry

The International Labour Organization (ILO), the last UN agency accepting funding from the tobacco industry for its activities, postponed the decision on its future relationship with the industry, failing to act despite persistent calls from the Workers’, Asia-Pacific and European groups, and many countries of the Americas. The ILO will revisit the issue of cutting ties with the tobacco industry in March 2018 at the 332nd Session of the Governing Body in Geneva.

The FCA calls on the ILO to take all the necessary steps to develop an “integrated ILO strategy to address decent work deficits in the tobacco sector” that produces tangible results and is sustainable without funding from the very industry responsible for the exploitative working conditions that foster child labour.

Ending Tobacco Industry-ILO Cooperation Once and for All

Mafoya Dossoumon, Communications Manager at Framework Convention Alliance

The International Labour Organization (ILO) partnership with the tobacco industry-funded Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation (ECLT) and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) is a relic of a bygone era, when the tobacco industry was seen as a normal business.

The partnership stands in contrast with Article 5.3 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global treaty with 181 Parties. The United Nations Interagency Taskforce (UNIATF) on Non-Communicable diseases, of which ILO is a member, recommends that United Nations (UN) agencies limit interactions and avoid any real or perceived partnership with the tobacco industry. The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) adopted Resolution E/RES/2017/8, which calls on members of the Taskforce to develop and implement policies on preventing tobacco industry interference, bearing in mind the Model Policy for agencies of the UN, drafted by UNIATF.

Last week in Geneva, the ILO, one of the last UN agencies to cooperate with the tobacco industry, reconsidered its unnatural relationship with the industry. Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) strongly recommends an end to the Public-Private Partnership (PPPs) with ECLT and JTI.

It is time for UN agencies to quit ‘Big Tobacco’

Claims made by Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation (ECLT) – a group funded and controlled by transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) – in its online release, dated 30 October 2017, should not distract from the fact that the International Labour Organization (ILO) through its current partnership with ECLT and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) stands in contrast with international standards codified in the World Health Organization Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Over 180 non-governmental organizations including Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) have called on the ILO to finally align itself with the UN Interagency Taskforce (UNIATF) on Non-Communicable diseases model policy and stop all cooperation with 'Big Tobacco'.

FCA would like to point out in the documents below that ECLT conducts Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities on behalf of ‘Big Tobacco’, over-promoting its activities and seeking to sidestep exploitation at the farm level.[1]After 17 years of funding from TTCs, the tobacco companies that fund it have made ECLT a hallmark of their sustainability reporting; though it has had little impact on the prevalence of child labor in the countries in which it operates.[2] There is wide recognition that poverty among tobacco farmers is a driver of child labor. ECLT allows TTCs to invest a relatively small amount of money in social programs that work to address some of the symptoms of that poverty while ignoring their role in perpetuating it.

  • Policy Brief: ILO should end Cooperation with Tobacco Industry (EN, FR, ES)
  • Policy Brief: Reference and Bibliography List (EN)
  • Tobacco and Allied Workers Union of Malawi Letter to ILO (EN)


[1]Otanez MG, Muggli ME, Hurt RD, Glantz SA. Eliminating child labour in Malawi: a British American Tobacco corporate responsibility project to sidestep tobacco labour exploitation. Tob Control. 2006;15(3):224-230.doi:10.1136/tc.2005.014993

[2]17Marty Otanez and Stanton Glantz. Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production? Tobacco Companies’ use of Green Supply Chains to Obscure the Real Costs of Tobacco Farming. Tob Control. 2011 Nov;20(6).403-411.


ILO amongst last UN Agencies accepting money from 'Big Tobacco'


On 1 November 2017, delegates of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) will be asked to vote to extend their partnership with the tobacco industry. This proposal comes despite recommendations from the UN Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC), an interagency taskforce to turn down any kind of funding from an industry with a vested interest in watering down any health and safety or labour regulation endangering its business model. If passed, ILO will run rogue in contradicting the ECOSOC resolutions and continue to maintain ties with the tobacco industry.

Letter to UN SG on Cooperation between Tobacco Industry and ILO


Download Letter to UN SG on Cooperation between Tobacco Industry and ILO


24 October 2017

Secretary General Antonio Guterres
United Nations, S-233
New York, NY 10027

Dear Secretary General Guterres,

RE: Cooperation between the tobacco industry and the International Labour Organization (ILO)

I am writing to you about a matter currently in front of the ILO Governing Body, which will meet next from 26 October to 9 November 2017 for its 331st meeting. The proposal GB.331/POL/5 concerns the ILO’s ongoing cooperation with the tobacco industry and acceptance of tobacco industry funding through its partnership with Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation (ECLT). This practice stands in direct conflict with international standards, in particular Article 5.3 of the World Health Organisation UN Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Statement by the Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

The global tobacco control community remains deeply concerned by the creation of the so-called “Foundation for a Smoke-Free World”, funded exclusively by the multinational tobacco company, Philip Morris International (PMI).

In its 14 Oct. issue, The Lancet published four pieces on the Foundation, including one by its head, Derek Yach.“The articles in the most recent issue of The Lancet have, if anything, raised our level of alarm,” said Francis Thompson, Executive Director of the Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control (FCA). The FCA is a global alliance of nearly 500 member organisations in more than 100 countries.

FCA notes that there is a long and tragic history of tobacco companies funding questionable research to delay effective measures to reduce deaths from smoking. Aware of their lack of credibility on health, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies also have a lengthy track record of paying third parties to advance their arguments and providing funds for what they describe as independent research efforts.

Civil society exposes industry tax campaign in Bangladesh

A press conference organised by PROGGA and the Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance on 8 MayAs budget season nears, Bangladesh cigarette makers are attempting to enlist the government’s National Board of Revenue (NBR) in a campaign to highlight the danger of cigarette smuggling, which companies say results from raising tobacco taxes.

FCA in action during COP6

The sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) took place 13-18 October in Moscow.

As always, FCA was there representing global civil society.

Take a look below at what we got up to. Click on an image for caption information.

COP6, FCA in Action

  • COP6: FCA in Action

    COP6: FCA in Action

    On Day 1 we presented FCA's views to COP6 delegates .

  • COP6: FCA in Action

    COP6: FCA in Action

    FCA member, Canadian Cancer Society, released its pack warnings report.

  • COP6: FCA in Action

    COP6: FCA in Action

    During FCTC COP sessions finding consensus was not always easy.

  • COP6: FCA in Action

    COP6: FCA in Action

    FCA's daily conference Bulletin was a hot item.

  • COP6: FCA in Action

    COP6: FCA in Action

    FCAers & delegates from Kenya discuss tobacco control during the African region briefing.

  • COP6: FCA in Action

    COP6: FCA in Action

    Veteran tobacco control advocate Olcott Gunasekera shows us the way at COP6.


More about COP6


FCTC COP7: Parties outline a path toward saving more lives

NEW DELHI, 12 November 2016 – Parties to the global tobacco control treaty now possess the outline of a path toward faster implementation at country level of the lifesaving measures in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control*, despite mixed results from six days of negotiations.

Global demand for cigarette graphic warnings grows

Over 100 countries and territories now require cigarette picture health warnings, marking a significant milestone in global public health that will reduce smoking and save lives.

FCA Policy Briefing for COP7: Tobacco Control in Trade and Investment Agreements


Key Recommendations

  • COP7, at the minimum, should acknowledge that
  1. Discussion of the FCTC in trade and investment negotiations (as done in the TPPA) is a step in the right direction, if not considered a “best practice”.
  2. Parties that manage to explicitly protect their ability to implement the WHO FCTC within the text of trade and investment agreements should be lauded and emulated.


  • If COP7 intends to set a standard in this area, it should adopt a Decision requesting Parties ensure, on their own or in co-operation with other Parties, including regional trade blocs, that measures taken in furtherance of the WHO FCTC are fully protected when negotiating and signing trade and investment agreements.
  • COP should explore a mechanism to formalize the process for the FCTC Secretariat to intervene on the health science elements of tobacco control measures that are challenged under trade and investment regimes.
  • The FCTC Secretariat should also explore ways to engage the FCTC dispute provisions under Article 27, or alternative means of providing a forum under Article 23.5, to allow parties to engage other parties that facilitate industry interference in trade or investment fora.
  • WHO, the Secretariat and other development partners should seek to raise funding to address awareness, conduct capacity building, and support Parties which are moving in the direction stated above. Such efforts not only potentially expand or retain another Parties’ regulatory space for tobacco control in the face of serious tobacco industry challenges, but will also provide global prominence to the FCTC.
  • COP7 should also request that the Secretariat monitor industry interference at WTO and other trade institutions.



Tobacco Control in Trade and Investment Agreements

Visit our page of COP7 resources


FCA policy briefing for COP7: Transparency of Parties’ delegations ...during sessions of the COP ...

Key recommendations:

  • FCA fully supports Article 5.3 and its guidelines, and believes the tobacco industry should be prevented from infiltrating COP sessions through the public badge;
  • FCA recommends Parties apply a pre-screening process for members of the public to screen out tobacco industry representatives from bona fide members of the public in advance of COP sessions;
  • FCA recognises the importance of media attendance at COP sessions and recommends Parties apply a pre-screening process for members of the media to ensure the tobacco industry cannot infiltrate FCTC meetings through the media.



Visit our page of COP7 resources


FCA Policy Briefing for COP7: Implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC

Key recommendations:

FCA recognises that Parties face a number of barriers in implementing Article 5.3 and may need support from experts, and other resources, to implement it successfully. FCA recommends the following actions at COP7 to ensure Parties have access to the resources and support they need:

  • Establish a Knowledge Hub on Article 5.3 to act as a centralised resource for providing Parties ongoing support to implement Article 5.3 and to elevate the profile of Article 5.3 across the whole of government amongst Parties;
  • The COP should support the Knowledge Hub by dedicating the necessary funding to have it perform these functions;
  • The Secretariat should help coordinate the work of the Knowledge Hub with that of regional Tobacco Industry Monitoring Centres (Observatories) and report its findings to COP8;
  • The COP should ensure that Article 5.3 implementation assistance is well reflected in relevant COP7 decisions, including on implementation review and resource mobilisation.


Visit our page of COP7 resources