FCTC 2030: Supporting action to tackle tobacco

Image courtesy of ASH (US)

Tobacco harms all forms of development, from health and housing to education and climate change. This is driving poverty. At the national level it hampers sustainable development while at an individual level families across the world spend money on tobacco that could otherwise be spent on food, education and healthcare.

Implementation of the World Health Organizations’ Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) can change this picture; and implementation of the FCTC is enshrined in both the Sustainable Development Goals and Financing for Development Agenda. However, the tobacco industry fights relentlessly against these measures; in 2001 Imperial Tobacco made a 25 year deal with the Government of Laos to limit tobacco taxation. Due to this contract, the Government suffered revenue losses of $79.42 million between 2002 and 2013. [1]

We have successfully fought against the tobacco industry in the UK and can now help other countries to do the same.

Under a project called FCTC 2030, the UK Government is providing overseas development assistance[2] to support implementation of the FCTC [3] in 15 countries, including Madagascar, Zambia and Cambodia. [4] These countries will receive tailored support to implement policies including: smokefree public places and workplaces, strengthening tobacco taxation and protecting health policies from the vested interests of the tobacco industry, known to reduce tobacco consumption [5] and improve health outcomes. [6][7]

The UK government is also a world leader in setting standards requiring diplomats not to “offer any endorsement of, or recommendations for, any tobacco company” and to “be careful to avoid creating the impression that any such endorsement exists”. [8] This guidance was published following a disgraceful co-option of the British Ambassador to Panama in 2012 by British American Tobacco. The Ambassador helped BAT lobby Panama’s trade minister to discourage tobacco tax increases because of the harm these were causing to what he described at the time as “one of the most important British companies”. [9]

We must support the UK Government to #ActOnTobacco and prevent the tobacco industry from exploiting the populations of Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).

Here’s how you can #ActOnTobacco:

  • Share your stories of the exploitation caused by tobacco using #ActOnTobacco
  • Write to tobacco companies to tell them how unhappy you are that their actions lead to poverty and bad health
  • Contact your pension provider to ask them if they invest in the tobacco industry. If so, ask them to disinvest.

References:

[1] Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. Regional tobacco control network urges for support to stop Imperial Tobacco’s unfair tax deal with Lao PDR. January 2015. 
[2] Hansard. Tobacco Control Strategy. December 2015. 
[3] World Health Organization. FCTC 2030: Strengthening WHO FCTC implementation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. [Accessed April 2017]
[4] World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Convention secretariat announces FCTC 2030 selected Parties. [Accessed April 2017]
[5] International Agency for Research on Cancer. Effectiveness of Tax and Price Policies for Tobacco Control. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Tobacco Control. Vol.14. 2011. 
[6] Sims M, Maxwell R, Bauld L & Gilmore A. The short-term impact of smokefree legislation in England: a retrospective analysis on hospital admissions for myocardial infarction. BMJ 2010; 340: c2161.
[7] Bauld L, Impact of smokefree legislation in England: Evidence review. University of Bath. 2011.
[8] Department of Health, United Kingdom’s revised guidelines for overseas posts on support to the tobacco industry. December 2013.
[9] Financial Times. UK Diplomat accused of lobbying. March 2012.