GGTC lauds WHO’s commitment to keep the tobacco industry out

PRESS STATEMENT

18 February 2019, Bangkok – The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) lauds the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recent affirmation of its commitment to reject any kind of support from the tobacco industry.

At the 144th Session of the WHO Executive Board (WHO EB), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, reiterated WHO 2017 Statement that WHO will not work with or accept any kind of support from the tobacco industry. In the said statement, WHO categorically declared that it “does not engage with the tobacco industry or non-State actors that work to further the interests of the tobacco industry [and] the Organization will therefore not engage with this new Foundation.” This was in response to the concerns raised by WHO EB participants including Australia, Netherlands, Panama, Singapore, and civil society organizations

The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) is a grant-giving body entirely funded by Philip Morris International (PMI). It offers funding for research in various fields of study such as agriculture and nicotine delivery systems which include IQOS, a product aggressively marketed by PMI.

“The tobacco industry is the problem; therefore, any collaboration with them must be rejected. We highly commend the WHO for reaffirming its commitment, which is in line with Article 5.3 of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the world’s first public health treaty. We are calling on governments to heed WHO’s warning and reject any form of partnership with the tobacco industry and those furthering its interests such as the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW),” said Bungon Ritthiphakdee, the Executive Director of GGTC.

Under Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC, governments are obligated to protect public health policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry and those serving its interests.

WHO’s recent pronouncement was a response to the call of around 300 organizations and individuals from over 50 countries that voiced their strong opposition to the idea of working with FSFW in any way. They signed an open letter initiated by Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP), a global tobacco industry watchdog, after FSWF advertised a letter urging the WHO EB to “review and consider how best to work with the [FSFW]…”

“The outcome at the Executive Board is a testament to the collaboration between WHO and the WHO FCTC Secretariat (Convention Secretariat). We recognize the efforts of the Convention Secretariat in promoting the implementation of Article 5.3 by constantly challenging the tobacco industry’s tactic to delude the public into thinking that it is a partner in development. As the FCTC Secretariat’s Knowledge Hub on Article 5.3, GGTC takes pride in working to ensure that life-saving measures are protected against tobacco industry interference,” Ritthiphakdee pointed out.

The Convention Secretariat worked towards the adoption of the Model Policy for agencies of the  United Nations System on Preventing Tobacco Industry Interests by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC), and supported the rejection of the tobacco industry by the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The Convention Secretariat closely monitors the progress of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its decision to discontinue acceptance of funding from the tobacco industry.

Globally, tobacco causes more than seven million deaths annually. Although lifesaving interventions like tobacco taxes and standardized packaging exist, governments report that tobacco industry interference remains to be the single greatest challenge to tobacco control.

“The tobacco industry is not, and will never be, the governments’ partner in development. Governments must protect the integrity of their offices and denounce any form of contribution from the tobacco industry and those furthering its interests,” said Ritthiphakdee.

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Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) is a combination of the academic discipline, diversity, and global reach of the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University and the decades-long experience of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)’s leaders in countering tobacco industry interference to move tobacco control measures forward at the country, regional, and global levels. It serves as the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat’s Knowledge Hub on Article 5.3 to support implementation of the Convention’s obligation on protecting against tobacco industry interference.

Visit us at https://ggtc.world/.

Contact:
Name                      : Faye Gonzalez
Position                 : Coordinator
Organization      : GGTC
Email                       : communications@ggtc.world
Phone                         : (+63-999) 884-1484