The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Industry Interference

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.