Manabu Sakuta – Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Japan Society for Tobacco Control

26 Aug 2012

IN TERMS OF THE FCTC, WHAT IS THE JSTC WORKING ON?

In Japan very few people know about the FCTC due to JTI’s intentional obstruction and the country’s Ministry of Finance, which owns more than half of JTI’s stock. The mass media has not reported on the FCTC, COPs or INBs.  Most of the (FCTC) guidelines are not even translated on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ home page, so that the public doesn’t know about them.

However, as an FCA member we have attended FCTC COPs, and translated and published FCTC guidelines for the public.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES YOUR ORGANISATION FACES WORKING ON TOBACCO CONTROL?

Our greatest challenge is trying to get the tobacco control message out through the media because JTI finances most of Japan’s TV news programmes. Newspapers are also manipulated by JTI and its distributor Dentsu (the biggest advertising agency in Japan).

JTI has claimed that it has not yet been confirmed that passive smoking is hazardous for one’s health. The company openly claims that lung cancer and cigarettes are unrelated because lung cancer is on the rise while smoking rates are declining – despite there being a lag of 30 years. Those who smoke are easily manipulated by these comments.

WHAT SUCCESS HAVE YOU HAD

Two years ago, when the DPJ (Democratic Party Japan) won a national election, we managed to get cigarette taxes increased by 40 percent. At the same time, we have managed to inform the public about the FCTC to some degree.

For six years we have been promoting the FCTC’s importance on our website, and last year we published an FCTC pocket book, which we distributed to every member of the Diet (national legislature), mass media, and those who attended events to mark World No Tobacco Day. This year we made posters demonstrating the importance of the FCTC, which we have distributed to Diet members, and members of the JSTC to put on the walls in their clinics.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT THE FCTC IS IMPLEMENTED IN YOUR COUNTRY, AND WHY?

Making the FCTC effective is our goal and it’s vital that we follow its direction. This is the sole focus of all our activities.

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