Tobacco industry cannot claim to be ‘responsible’
It’s obvious that the core activities of the tobacco industry contradict corporate social responsibility (CSR) but tobacco companies continue using international CSR standards to report their activities and increase their public profiles, finds a new report.
Ten years ago the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report, Tobacco Industry and Corporate Responsibility: An Inherent Contradiction, documenting how the tobacco industry uses CSR discourse to disguise many of its irresponsible practices.
Since then transnational tobacco companies, such as Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco, have boosted their CSR activities, says the report, titled Corporate Social Irresponsibility, by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).
The report reveals how, to improve their public profiles, tobacco companies also associate themselves with international standards, like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the International Standards Organization (ISO), the UN Global Compact and ISO 26000: 2010 Guidance on Social Responsibility, the most comprehensive standard related to social responsibility.
Undertaking an analysis based on ISO 26000’s expectations of 7 principles and 7 core subjects, SEATCA found that tobacco industry practices failed to fulfil almost all of them. Therefore, it concludes, the industry cannot be considered socially responsible.
SEATCA’s report recommends:
• Countries compile their own evidence on the tobacco industry’s CSR reports using ISO and GRI standards before they are used to influence tobacco control policy;
• Evidence in its report should be used to expose the tobacco industry’s tactics and to collaborate with national standards bodies that subscribe to ISO standards;
• Banning the tobacco industry from conducting and participating in CSR-related communication—especially those related to advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
• Banning tobacco industry-related CSR activities in line with recommendations in the guidelines to Articles 5.3 and 13 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC); and
• The ISO and GRI should apply a moratorium on the tobacco industry using their names in industry reports on CSR and sustainability.
See what will be discussed at FCTC COP6 in October. Tobacco industry interference is on the agenda.