US business organisation does bidding of Big Tobacco globally
The US Chamber of Commerce is working systematically around the world to help the tobacco industry fight life-saving measures to reduce tobacco use, according to a new report.
The report says that the Chamber’s multi-pronged approach includes:
- Opposing countries’ health policies;
- Pitting countries against each other in international trade disputes, and
- Influencing international trade agreements to benefit tobacco companies.
The report, US Chamber of Commerce: Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco, was prepared by public interest and public health organisations worldwide, including FCA.
It follows a series of articles in the New York Times detailing the Chamber’s activities (see below).
The Chamber is a private trade association based in Washington, DC. It was established to communicate with the US government on behalf of small- and medium-size businesses, but today lobbies in the interests of some of the largest multinational corporations in the United States and abroad.
Chamber’s mighty weight
The Chamber is not an agency of the US government, nor does it serve as an official representative of it. However, as the self-described “world’s largest business organization,” the Chamber’s positions on public policies around the world, including public health policies, are often perceived as carrying the weight of the US business community.
As a result, for many governments – particularly in low- and middle-income countries – disregarding the Chamber’s policy positions on tobacco can carry an implied threat for the country’s prospects to attract investment and economic growth.
Among other things, the report concludes that governments must:
- Reject the misleading arguments and threats of the Chamber, and its affiliates, and enact proven tobacco control measures that improve public health and save lives, such as those laid out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
- Act to protect public health policies from the commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry and its allies – like the US Chamber – as required under Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC.