Bloomberg Philanthropies selects Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control and two key partners to lead STOP: the Global Tobacco Industry Watchdog
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ public health team works with partners in low- and middle-income countries to reduce tobacco use through a comprehensive approach that combines evidence-based policy change with increased public awareness. Their $15 million grant to three partners will establish STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products), a global watchdog to counter the tobacco industry’s nefarious tactics of undermining tobacco control. STOP combines the expertise and efforts of GGTC and two renowned organizations, Tobacco Control Research Group of the University of Bath and The Union with the subgrantee Vital Strategies. Reports show that tobacco industry interference remains the single greatest obstacle to implementing lifesaving measures to curb smoking. A global treaty, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which was embraced by 181 countries, spells out that tobacco control policies must be protected against tobacco industry interests (also known as article 5.3 of the FCTC). The global watchdog STOP will expose tobacco industry tactics and strategies and will provide tools for developing nations to counter the industry’s influence. GGTC Chair Dr. Nuntavarn Vichit-Vadakan said, “We appreciate the progressive nature of this grant, and we are happy to be selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies to undertake this challenging but important public health task. This will allow us to do more efficiently what we have already set out for GGTC to do: To provide strategies and tools to counter tobacco industry interference and promote Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC.”
“We are delighted that the STOP’s work will support the implementation of the WHO FCTC, particularly its Article 5.3 and the corresponding Guidelines. GGTC will play a key role in protecting the Convention and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products from the interference by the tobacco industry and its front groups,” expressed Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC, which had selected GGTC as the Convention Secretariat’s Knowledge Hub for Article 5.3 in November 2017.
Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the world and yet it accounts for 7 million deaths globally. Lifesaving measures such as increasing taxes, creating smoke-free public places, banning tobacco advertising, increasing tax on tobacco products, and requiring graphic pack warnings are part of the commitment of practically all governments in the world. The tobacco industry has been found to constantly and consistently challenge such cost-effective measures. The tobacco industry reportedly gains the most ground in countries where public officers are allowed to have unnecessary interactions with the tobacco industry. A recognized first line of defense in preventing tobacco industry influence is identifying the actors in the tobacco industry, knowing their tactics, and avoiding any unnecessary interactions with them, in accordance with governance principles found in Article 5.3 of the FCTC and its Guidelines. In the endeavor to be the global tobacco industry watchdog, GGTC has partnered with two esteemed institutions in tobacco control: 1.) The Tobacco Control Research Group of the University of Bath, which specializes in investigative tobacco research and hosts tobaccotactics.org, a site that profiles those linked with the tobacco industry. 2.) The French based organization International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) with its sub-grantee Vital Strategies, which co-produce the Tobacco Atlas online resource of tobacco control statistics and indicators/ metrics.
The Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) is a joint initiative of the South-East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), and the Thammasat University’s School of Global Studies in Thailand. GGTC experts created the Tobacco Industry Interference Index, a survey of how public health policies are protected from the tobacco industry’s influence. With the support of the Ministry of Public Health Thailand, GGTC was designated by the FCTC Secretariat to serve as the Knowledge Hub for Article 5.3 to support implementation of the Convention’s obligation on protecting against tobacco industry interference. Our Key Partners The School of Global Studies, housed in Thammasat University, one of Thailand’s oldest and premier university, is a new and innovative academic initiative and a front runner in global health and social innovation within Thailand, Southeast Asia and beyond with a track record of excellent research on determinants of the public’s health, student centered teaching, and academic service relevant to community needs. Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) is a WHO World No Tobacco Day awardee, that has two decades of success in assisting developing nations in countering tobacco industry interference (TII). Its pioneering employment of multi-sectoral regional meetings has led to development of anti-TII policies from non-health sectors, including for example the Philippine Civil Service Commission’s “Protecting the Bureaucracy against TII” and the Indonesian Ministry of Education’s Tobacco CSR Ban. SEATCA’s multi-disciplinary expertise, campaign strategy and collaborative actions have been instrumental in monumental policy shifts, including the exclusion of tobacco control measures from the inter-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) of the Transpacific Partnership Agreement and removal of TI sponsorship from the International Trade and Investment Center. It initiated the TI Interference Index, a global civil society index on TII intensity, which serves as a potent advocacy tool in challenging TII in the region.
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