TABACCO INDUSTRY BRINGING DEATH THROUGH ORGANIZED
INTERFERENCE IN HEALTH ISSUES. by francis okoye
Tobacco industry all over the world, is bringing death in the form of tobacco interference in Health issues, that lead many to develop disease that most times lead to their death, as a result of Tobacco use.
According to a webinar on Tabacco industry interference in WHO frame work convention on Tabacco control by citizen news service held recently; Tabacco industries have hijacked political and legislative process, exaggerated economic importance of Tabacco industry, manipulating public opinion to gain appearance of respectability, fabricating support through front groups, discrediting proven science and intimidating governments with litigation
or threat of litigation. These methods were outlined in who world no Tabacco day 2012.
Below are details of Tabacco industry interference.
· They give voice to Tabacco interference interests
· They create and maintain controversy where none exist e.g Tabacco taxation.
· They portray appearance of broad support for the tobacco industry.
Some of the groups they use include international Tabacco growers Association ITGA, concerned tax payers and citizen associations and groups, conservative think tanks and economic research institutes like the Reason Foundation, International Tax Investment Center Student for Liberty, etc.
Maitri Porecha a noted journalist speaking on the matter said that tobacco industry interference is not new. We need to fire wall health and development policies.
Tobacco interference in Delhi propelling lies, misleading notions to protect markets. One thing according to the experts is clear public health is not on their agenda. Journalist must watch out for such pro industry campaigns. Tobacco companies. Lobby and influencing government, even in appointment of health ministers in India.
Samuel ochieng, an expert and part of Network for Accountability of Tabacco Transnational NATT leadership revealed that Ten of thousands of dollars were spent on politicians in other for tobacco companies to get bigger market and ensure no legislature in Kenga. BAT fighting in Kenga. BAT sued minister for health of Kenga for bringing out regulation, lost the case, and the regulation was to take effect in 6 months, 3 days before it expired BAT appealed. Intimidation by BAT of Kenga government is much. They try to manipulate and influence position. They sponsor government delegations or be part of government delegation. We have to watch out and make sure this does not continue. One thing that astonished us is that they budget #100,000 pounds for political donations with election coming up, they are able to buy politicians and stop regulation. We have to be careful about were money comes for campaign and all those so called consultants, who are actually working for Tabacco industry”
Speaking on challenges of big Tabacco, Cloe Franko, Snr international organizer, Corporate Accountability International Cai, Tabacco industry exploit loopholes to attend COPS, industry representatives attend as part of delegates, since they are no screening process. Industry exploits public badge, since they are no screening process also for this, as it is first come, first serve Article 83 guidelines is clear on this subject. Secretariat analysis found at least 11 parties have sent Tabacco industry representatives to COPs including state tobacco monopolies, specialized tobacco agencies & associations.
Other ways of tobacco interference include intimidate and manipulate delegates, lobby delegates without revealing identity, have access to confidential daft documents. British American Tabacco BAT bribery scandal in which a whistle blower revealed conspiracy of bribery bribes to FCTC representatives from Comoros, Rwanda, Burundi.
THE WAY TO FIGHT TOBACCO INTERFERENCE
The way to fight tobacco interference in Health is to bring COPS in view with article 53, and ensure independent representative no longer admitted, screen delegates and make use of public media were the conclusion of experts.
Tabacco industry is influencing journalists/media more than Tabacco control. We need to create more awareness protecting FCTC in Africa. We need to escalate the awareness in article 53.
Article 53 WHO FCTC states in setting and implementing public health policies with respect to Tabacco control, parties shall act to protect these policies from common and other vested interest of Tabacco interference in accordance with national law.
The experts who made available their expertise at the webinar include Stella Bialous, Ass professor, Uni of California SF school of Nursing and Adviser to WHO, Samuel Ochieng CFO Consumer Information Network Kenya, Miltri Porecha, a noted journalist, Cloe Ftranko. Snr. International organizer Corporate Accountability International CAI and moderated by Shobha Shukla of Citizen News Service.