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Progress in addressing tobacco industry interference

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

December 2008, South Africa - We are happy to announce that The COP adopted very strong guidelines on Articles 5.3 (protection of public health policy with respect to tobacco control from the commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry).

While big tobacco companies can still claim to be a “stakeholder” in public health, the 5.3 guidelines adopted at COP3 recognise that this industry has a fundamental conflict of interest with the aims and objectives of public health and tobacco control. The guidelines provide some guidance to the FCTC Parties on how best to achieve the objective of Article 5.3 of the convention in addressing tobacco industry interference.

Whilst the full text of the 5.3 guidelines is not yet available online, we can already inform you that the guideline is a detailed document of 15 pages which contain both Guiding Principles and Recommendations.

There are four principles:

Principle 1: There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health interests.

Principle 2: Parties, when dealing with the tobacco industry or those working to further its interests, should be accountable and transparent.

Principle 3: Parties should require the tobacco industry and those working to further its interests to operate and act in a manner that is accountable and transparent.

Principle 4: Because their products are lethal, the tobacco industry should not be granted incentives to establish or run their business.

In addition to the four principles, eight recommendations were adopted for addressing tobacco industry interference in public health policies.

8 recommendations:

1. Raise awareness about the addictive and harmful nature of tobacco products and about tobacco industry interference with Parties’ tobacco control policies.

2. Establish measures to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensure the transparency of those interactions that occur.

3. Reject partnerships and non-binding or non-enforceable agreements with the tobacco industry.

4. Avoid conflicts of interest for government officials and employees.

5. Require that information provided by the tobacco industry be transparent and accurate.

6. Denormalise and, to the greatest possible extent, regulate activities described as “socially responsible” by the tobacco industry, including but not limited to activities described as “corporate social responsibility”.

7. Do not give preferential treatment to the tobacco industry.

8. Treat state-owned tobacco industry in the same way as any other tobacco industry.

Please note that the full text will be soon available at http://www.who.int/gb/fctc/

The adoption of the guidelines on Article 5.3 is a huge victory for the public health community.

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