Report finds Big Tobacco slowing implementation of countries’ tobacco control plans

18 Mar 2012

For example, half of the national NGO partners that collected research indicated that the tobacco industry is running so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns in their countries.

The World Health Organization has called tobacco industry CSR “an inherent contradiction”, and the Article 5.3 Guidelines call on Parties to reject such initiatives. Multinational tobacco companies often use CSR activities to circumvent advertising bans, allowing them to positively brand themselves without explicitly promoting a tobacco product.

A ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is included in the FCTC.

“Tobacco industry activities like those reported in Tobacco Watch do more than violate Article 5.3 of the FCTC: they impede progress on implementing all other measures in the Convention, which are proven to be effective and cost-effective,” said FCA Director Laurent Huber.

“In fact, the Political Declaration of the United Nations NCD Summit recognised the key role of tobacco control in combating NCDs – which account for 60 percent of the world’s deaths – and specifically recommended accelerating implementation of the FCTC,” Huber added.

According to Yul Francisco Dorado of Corporate Accountability International: “This year’s Tobacco Watch reminds us that the primary challenge the treaty faces is not a lack of political or public will, but a defiant, invasive and ultimately deadly industry. Ending tobacco industry interference is paramount to the success of the treaty at large.”

With more than 170 Parties, the FCTC is one of the most successful international conventions. It includes other specific steps for governments addressing tobacco use, including to:

  • Adopt tax and price measures to reduce tobacco consumption;
  • Create smoke-free work and public spaces;
  • Put prominent health warnings on tobacco packages;
  • Combat illicit trade in tobacco products.

Tobacco use is responsible for the death of nearly six million people annually, 70 percent of them in the developing world. If current trends continue, WHO estimates that one billion people will die of tobacco-related causes in the 21st century.

The three leading tobacco transnationals – Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco (JT) – had combined revenues of US$210 billion in 2010, far eclipsing the gross domestic products of many of the countries where they operate. Tobacco Watch also found:

  • A revolving door for employees to move between jobs with government and the tobacco industry in more than half of the countries that reported;
  • Partnerships or non-enforceable agreements between government and industry in nearly half of reporting countries;
  • Industry-run programmes claiming to prevent youth smoking in more than half of countries that reported.

All these activities violated FCTC Article 5.3 Guidelines. Tobacco Watch also reports on Parties performance in implementing FCTC articles dealing with reporting, smoke-free air, package warning labels, marketing and taxation.

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More information

Media release translations

Media information

For more information contact FCA Director Laurent Huber in Singapore: +1.202.352.3284 (US mobile) OR
FCA Communications Manager Marty Logan in Ottawa – Tel: +1.613.241.3927, ext 302, m: +1.613.617.1179,, Skype: loganjourno

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