Tobacco Industry Accountability and Liability in the Time of COVID-19

November 2020

Summary

The tobacco industry must be held to account for health care costs, compensation to victims, corruption, illicit trade, environmental damage, food insecurity, child labor, and more. Under the global tobacco control treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), governments are called on to adopt stronger tobacco control laws, create robust legal frameworks, and take action to make the tobacco industry pay compensation for the harms it has caused.

The tobacco industry must not be granted incentives to run its business. To enable corporate accountability, governments must demand transparency from the tobacco industry and adopt policies to resist its influence. Due to limitations of legal systems in many jurisdictions and the escalated impact of tobacco harms during COVID-19, the most rational way to make the tobacco industry pay in a manner that responds to the crisis is to increase and dedicate taxes to a wide range of areas where the industry has caused harm, including creating compensation mechanisms to ensure fair distribution to beneficiaries. This would support countries’ COVID-19 responses as well as help achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

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