The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Media Releases

Global community unites against tobacco industry interference

Declaration at treaty meeting affirms priority of public health over trade

PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY – As the host country for this week’s tobacco control treaty meetings braces for a legal challenge from Philip Morris International (PMI) to its graphic cigarette warning labels, 172 Parties are uniting behind Uruguay in a declaration adopted this morning.

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.

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

The document:
•    reaffirms that health is a fundamental right of every human being;
•    affirms the sovereign right of all Parties to protect health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry;
•    declares Parties’ concern regarding the tobacco industry’s current and ongoing efforts to “subvert and undermine government policies on tobacco control;”
•    declares the need to exchange information nationally and internationally regarding the tobacco industry’s efforts to interfere in the implementation of the treaty;
    
The full language of the declaration is available at http://apps.who.int/gb/fctc/E/E_cop4.htm.

“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 Francisco Dorado, Latin America Director for Corporate Accountability International. “Just this week, the industry has used front groups to bully delegates and mislead the media. It has sent dozens of representatives to walk the halls of a treaty meeting it is prohibited from participating in. And that’s just what is in plain view. This declaration says enough is enough, we cannot get down to the business of saving lives unless Big Tobacco is directly challenged.”

Corporate Accountability International, formerly Infact, is a membership organization that protects people by waging and winning campaigns challenging irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions around the world. For 30 years, the organization has compelled corporations—like Nestlé, General Electric and Philip Morris/Altria—to halt a range of abuses. Corporate Accountability is an NGO in Official Relations with the World Health Organization (WHO).

 The Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) includes more than 100 NGOs from more than 50 countries working for a strong, enforceable Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
AT COP-4 IN PUNTA DEL ESTE, Tel: +598-99705263; from Uruguay - 099705263

Marty Logan
Communications Manager
Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) for Tobacco Control
1 Nicholas St, Suite 104
Ottawa, ON, K1N 7B7, CANADA
Tel: 1.613.241.3927
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.fctc.org
Skype: loganjourno

COP-4 overcomes industry efforts, delivers progress on global tobacco control

PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay, Nov, 20, 2010 – The fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-4) to the global tobacco treaty ended Saturday with major achievements for public health in the face of unprecedented efforts by the tobacco industry to block progress in reducing the millions of lives lost annually to tobacco-related diseases.

NGO blasts Philippine COP-4 delegation

Civil society representatives awarded the Philippine delegation to COP-4 with the shameful Dirty Ashtray award for promoting tobacco industry interests through the use of international trade laws.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance in the Philippines (FCAP) says the delegation served as the tobacco industry's mouthpiece in criticising the draft guidelines on regulating the contents of tobacco products and requiring disclosure of tobacco products contents.

NGO asks Zambia to apologize to WHO

A non-government association in Zambia has denounced the Zambian government’s claims that the WHO is destabilising the world tobacco trade, which will in turn harm Zambia’s economy.

The Tobacco-Free Association of Zambia (TOFAZA) says it is against such wild accusations, and against calling for amendments to relevant Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) articles. As a result TOFAZA is calling on its government to apologise to WHO for its unwarranted attacks.

Latin America leads global progress developing new smoke-free policy

In the past two years the number of countries that have implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws has more than doubled and Latin America remains at the forefront of global progress, says Global Smokefree Partnership’s (GSP) Status Report on Article 8.1

The report was launched at the Fourth Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), being held in Punta del este, Uruguay, 15-20 November.

Successes underscore need for more action on tobacco treaty

EMBARGOED UNTIL 11 a.m. (EST), MONDAY 15 NOVEMBER

MONTEVIDEO, Nov 15 – A new global report indicates that efforts to combat the global tobacco epidemic are lagging, in spite of strong progress in some countries. The report, Tobacco Watch: Monitoring Countries’ Performance on the Global Treaty, was released today by the Framework Convention Alliance, a coalition of over 350 nongovernmental organisations from over 100 countries.

The report focuses on a few key tobacco control measures required under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first modern-day public health treaty. The release coincides with the Fourth Conference of the Parties to the FCTC, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

TC advocates raise industry alarm in Tanzania

Article 9 and 10

As Parties to the global tobacco treaty prepare for their biennial meeting in Uruguay, Tanzanian tobacco control advocates are raising the alarm against tobacco multinationals’ tactics to hinder the adoption of effective guidelines on Article 9 and 10 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Industry attacks FCTC under guise of protecting farmers

WASHINGTON – As Parties to the global tobacco treaty prepare for their biannual meeting in Uruguay, the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) is facing attacks worldwide from the tobacco industry.

Philippines’ court rules against tobacco giant

Article 5.3: industry interference

The global tobacco control community is celebrating a court decision in the Philippines that dismissed a challenge by the Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Company (PMFTC) of the Department of Health’s (DOH) graphic health information policy.

The decision in the Tanauan trial court means the DOH can ban the use of terms like “light” and “low tar” on packages of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Such labels, known as misleading descriptors, trick consumers into believing that such tobacco products are safer than others, but there is no scientific evidence to back such claims.

Health leaders to resist industry and reduce smoking

Health leaders in the Americas vowed to resist tobacco industry pressure and support efforts to reduce tobacco use during a recent meeting at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

100% smoke-free Spain urged

Article 8.1

A coalition of national and international tobacco control and public health experts recently called on the Spanish government to make all enclosed spaces 100 per cent smoke-free.

International Public Health Groups Applaud Uruguay’s Refusal to Weaken Tobacco Control

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


MONTEVIDEO, 30 July 2010 – International health groups strongly support the Government of Uruguay’s decision not to bow to pressure from Philip Morris International (PMI) which filed a lawsuit against the government seeking to force it to weaken the country’s strong and effective tobacco control laws. The groups, including the American Cancer Society, Framework Convention Alliance, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Corporate Accountability International, InterAmerican Heart Foundation and International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease emphasized the importance of Uruguay’s tobacco control laws to the health and well being of the country’s citizens. The groups also offered to provide technical and legal assistance to the Government of Uruguay.

Uruguay’s tobacco control laws are some of the strongest in the world, including graphic health warnings that cover 80 percent of cigarette packages, and a policy of one package per brand, which was adopted to deter the tobacco industry’s use of packages with colours and other symbols to substitute misleading descriptors such as “light” and “low tar” cigarettes.

On February 27, 2010, PMI announced that they had filed for arbitration at the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. PMI claims that the use of a single presentation of a brand, as well as graphic health warnings that cover 80 percent of tobacco packages, poses a risk to its investments. This lawsuit is a legal maneuver designed to force the Government of Uruguay to weaken its tobacco control laws, and therefore no longer effectively protect its citizens from the deadly consequences of tobacco use.

In a letter of support earlier this month, international groups stated that Philip Morris’ lawsuit is spurious and without merit and that Uruguay has a strong case in any international court based on the fact “that all tobacco control measures Uruguay implemented are based in scientific evidence and covered by the first modern-day International Public Health Treaty, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)”.  In addition, the groups offered technical and legal support to Uruguay in its case against PMI.

If PMI succeeds in pressuring Uruguay, a country recognised worldwide as a leader in tobacco control, to weaken its public health tobacco control laws, it will have repercussions throughout the world and send a signal that countries can be intimidated by the threat of lawsuits by multinational companies like PMI. It will also undermine the impact of the FCTC, which requires countries that have ratified the treaty to implement scientifically proven measures to reduce tobacco use. Governments worldwide should not feel that they could be victims of PMI’s legal threats as a result of implementing effective measures that will reduce tobacco’s terrible toll on health, lives and money in their countries.

Uruguay is one of 22 countries that have passed or implemented graphic health warnings that cover at least 50% of cigarette packs, and one of only 10 countries whose health warnings cover more than 50% of packs. The Australian government recently approved the implementation of plain packaging, or standardized packaging that does not allow for colors or identifying marks such as pictures or logos. Additionally, the Honduras parliament recently followed Uruguay’s example and implemented 80 percent graphic warning labels on tobacco packs.

Large, picture-based health warning labels on tobacco packages are an essential component of a national strategy to reduce tobacco use. Research shows that effective warning labels increase knowledge about risks associated with smoking and can influence future decisions about smoking. Large and graphic warning labels can motivate smokers to quit, discourage nonsmokers from starting, and keep ex-smokers from starting again. For example, Brazil’s hard-hitting graphic warnings, as well as other tobacco control measures, have reduced the national smoking prevalence from 34 to 17 percent.

It is clear that Philip Morris International consciously chose to file suit against Uruguay to send a message to other countries seeking to protect their citizens from the health effects of tobacco. In November 2010, Uruguay will host the fourth Conference of the Parties (COP), in which nations that have ratified the FCTC meet to come to consensus on the treaty’s guidelines. In a letter to President Mujica, international groups said that “the COP presents an opportunity for the Government of Uruguay to make a formal request for the 169 Parties to create a mechanism and develop a strategy that not only protects Uruguay but the rest of the countries from similar maneuvers.” They offered the Uruguayan Government their help to make this request and to find support from among the other countries that are Parties to the FCTC for this initiative.

Immediate steps should be taken to stop the tobacco industry from undermining strong tobacco control laws and policies. The World Health Organization states that tobacco use already kills 5.4 million people a year and the epidemic is worsening, especially in the developing world where more than 80 percent of tobacco-caused deaths will occur in the coming decades. Unless urgent action is taken, one billion people will die worldwide from tobacco use this century.

CONTACT:    Eduardo Bianco - +598-94-41-65-59

WHO releases health warning website

Australian government warning taken from the WHO pictorial health warning website.The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a health warnings website to help countries and Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) share pictorial health warnings and messages.

The WHO FCTC requires Parties to implement large, rotating health warnings on all tobacco products’ packaging and labelling. Such warnings are seen as a cost-effective way to increase public awareness about the dangers of tobacco use.

This website, was developed following a decision by the Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC at its third session, and will be updated regularly as countries and Parties provide more images.

Visit the WHO’s health warning website