TC advocates raise industry alarm in Tanzania

11 Nov 2010

Read the full Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum press release below


November 10, 2010 – As Parties to the global tobacco treaty prepare for their biennial meeting in Uruguay, Tanzanian tobacco control advocates are raising the alarm against tobacco multinationals’ tactics to hinder the adoption of effective guidelines on Article 9 & 10 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

In recent months an organization claiming to represent tobacco growers worldwide has been publicly lobbying against items on the agenda of the Fourth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the FCTC (COP 4). The International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA), a public relations vehicle created by the tobacco industry in the 1980s to front its lobbying efforts against international tobacco control initiatives, has been focusing on draft guidelines that recommend countries “restrict or prohibit” flavorings added to tobacco to make it more palatable, especially to young smokers and potential smokers. Similarly, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is calling on its 19 members to oppose what it calls “a ban on non-tobacco ingredients used in producing cigarettes”.

According to the ITGA, the guidelines on flavorings if adopted would effectively ban burley, a type of tobacco popular in “American-style” cigarettes. Burley is grown widely in the developing world, –and the ITGA is telling farmers there that the guidelines would have a catastrophic impact on their jobs and livelihoods by resulting in a shortage in the demand for leaves.

“What the ITGA fails to mention is that burley cigarettes continue to be sold in countries that are already restricting tobacco flavorings,” said Laurent Huber, Director of the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), a global alliance of more than 350 civil society organizations working for the FCTC.

According to Lutgard Kokulinda Kagaruki, Executive Director of the Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum, “burley tobacco production in Tanzania compared to other types of cigarettes is very insignificant. A ban on burley therefore has no negative impact on tobacco farmers in Tanzania.

Again, since tobacco companies in Tanzania do not manufacture flavored tobacco products, there will be no job losses as none has been created.” She further stressed on the fact that efforts should be done to ensure that flavored tobacco products are not imported in the country.

Tanzanian tobacco control advocates strongly encourage the Tanzanian government to resist any attempt by the tobacco industry to manipulate them. They therefore call on Tanzanian delegates heading to COP 4 to support the adoption of the draft guidelines on Articles 9 and 10 without change.

From 15-20 November, Uruguay will host the Fourth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the FCTC, which now has 171 Parties, representing 89 per cent of the world’s population.

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