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Implementation of measures to prevent and address tobacco industry interference in policy - European status

Thursday, February 8th, 2018
Implementation of measures to prevent and address tobacco industry interference in policy - European status

Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control requires Parties to take measures to protect public health policies from tobacco industry interference. This briefing looks at how European countries have implemented those provisions. 

 

 

 

 

Status of National Measures Implementing WHO FCTC Article 5.3

December 2017 -- SFP conducted a review of European countries' reports on FCTC implementation, which they have to submit to the FCTC conference of the ahead of each session with an aim to identify these measures. These reports are available and searchable on the FCTC website

While this briefing has limitations (1. it only relies on governments' reports; 2. it only includes EU member states and the SFP Coalition Partners' countries; and 3. is only as recent as the latest reports submitted by governments), it does however provide an idea of the countries' activities and overall policy status with regard to Article 5.3 FCTC. 

Unless indicated otherwise, the source of the information is the official country report.  

Should you have comments or questions please contact us at info (a) smokefreepartnership.eu. 

 

European Union

In its 2016 Party report, the EU does not report any specific policies regarding the implementation of  specific policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference, however it refers to codes of practice for civil servants:

 

"The ethical and integrity rules (notably Staff Regulations, Code of Conduct for Commissioners and Code of Good Administrative Behaviour), as well as the rules on access to documents and on transparency regarding relations with interest representatives, constitute a framework which is consistent with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and ensures that the FCTC is respected including its provision on protecting public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. The Staff Regulations for officials of the European Union contain legally binding ethical standards and ensure that the principles of independence, impartiality, objectivity and loyalty are applied in the European Public Service. Notably the principle of independence guarantees that conduct and decision-making are determined by the need to serve the common good and the public interest, and never by any other interests.

 

A Practical Guide for staff on ethics and conduct, recently revised, contains recommendations regarding contacts with interest groups in general and sets out when a record of a meeting should be ensured (p. 12).

 

As regards transparency, Regulation 1049/2001 on public access to documents is an important element, flanked by the other aspects of the Commission's transparency policy, such as the Transparency Register, and the proactive publication of information on meetings held by Commissioners, members of their cabinets and Directors-General with stakeholders. As of 1 December 2014, Commissioners, their Cabinet members and Directors General publish information on the meetings they hold with lobbyists. Moreover, they meet only with interest representatives whose organisations feature on the Transparency Register. As concerns other staff members, the Commission recommends to all staff to check the credentials of a given interest representative to make sure they are registered in the Transparency Register and if, they are not, encourage them to register. The Commission constantly promotes this "good practice" as part of its training and awareness-raising actions on relations with interest groups."

 

In December 2016, the European Ombudsman issued a ruling of maladministration against the European commission. The Ombudsman found that by refusing to implement proactive disclosure of meetings with the tobacco industry by officials in all Commission departments in line with the practice in place at DG Health and Food Safety, the European Commission is guilty of maladministration.

 

Austria

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Austria does not report any national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference, however it reports having utilised the guidelines to FCTC Article 5.3:

"In general, the Federal Ministry of Health is not having any direct contact to representatives of the tobacco industry when it comes to the drafting of law targeting the tobacco industry’s interests. Nevertheless, based on constitutional law, representatives of the industry themselves (as any other citizen too) have the right to submit their positions to draft law related to their business by means of the official evaluation procedure. The attempts of the tobacco industry to undermine the existing legal provisions prohibiting advertisement and sponsoring were rejected by the legislator."

 

Belgium

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Belgium does not report any national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference.

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Bosnia and Herzegovina does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference.

 

Bulgaria

In its 2014 implementation report on the FCTC, Bulgaria does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference, with the exception of marking the 2012 World No Tobacco day under the theme “Stop Tobacco Industry interference”

 

Croatia

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Croatia does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. However,  it reports referring to the FCTC Article 5.3 "guidelines in everyday work, when deciding how to deal with the tobacco industry, in a manner that is accountable and transparent."

 

Cyprus

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Cyprus does not report any specific policies, but states that its new tobacco control  legislation “ensures the protection of public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interest of the tobacco industry” and that it “was prepared without interference of the tobacco industry”.

 

The report further states: “The ministry of health announced to the tobacco industries that no tobacco policy issues will be discussed with them, and will not accept any kind of interference regarding the tobacco control policies. There are no partnerships or agreements with the tobacco industry. There is no conflict of interest for government employees.”

 

Czech Republic

In its 2014 implementation report on the FCTC, Czech Republic  does not report any specific policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. However it states: “The Code of Ethics for state officials and employees in public administration, which was approved by the Government Resolution No. 331 of 9 May 2012, and the Codes of Ethics of relevant state authorities in general apply to this matter.” It further states having taken Article 5.3 guidelines into account as “it was important for discussion during preparation of the Action plan for the area of tobacco control in the Czech Republic(2015-2018) and it will be used for the purposes of a task of this action plan.”

 

Denmark

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Denmark does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It reports that “The Agency for the Modernisation of Public Administration published in 2007 “Good behaviour in public administration”, which describes the basic terms and conditions of work in the public sector.

 

Estonia

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Estonia  does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It reports that it has utilized the FCTC article 5.3 guidelines, without giving any specific details.

 

Finland

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Finland reported the following measures:  “Finnish public health policies are well protected from the tobacco industry. The interaction with the industry is limited mainly to open requests for comment. However there is no extensive public repository on industry's activities. Several reports on the tobacco industry activities have been published. Many non-governmental organizations report that they actively disseminate information and raise discussion on the industry's activities, interests and methods. For example Finland's ASH disseminates information and reveals the tactics of the tobacco industry and encourages public discussion on the tobacco industry ́s methods to ensure their profits. In addition, Finland ́s ASH and many other NGOs have adopted the policy not to interact with the tobacco companies, their affiliates or any other companies which work with tobacco industry, such as advertising agenci[e]s.”

 

France

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, France reported: “Health Law of 26 January 2016 provides in Article 26 that: "Manufacturers, importers and distributors of tobacco products as well as businesses, professional organizations or associations representatives submit annually to the Minister for Health a report detailing all the expenses of influence or interest representation activities. Part of this information will be made public through a dedicated website.”

 

 

Germany

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Germany does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference.

 

Greece

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Greece does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference.

 

Hungary

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC,  Hungary reported the “No further steps have been made in the implementation of Article 5.3.”, but that, ““the Tobacco Control Focal Point provides information on practices of the tobacco industry.” It further added that “(…) Hungary has taken actions against the commercial and other financial interests of the tobacco industry when creating legislations in force and laws that might brough[t] into force in the future.”

 

Ireland

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Ireland reported that “A key recommendation in Tobacco Free Ireland is to: Take steps to ensure that all government officials, employees of state agencies and members of any government branch (executive, legislative and judiciary) responsible for setting and implementing tobacco control policies and protecting those policies against tobacco industry interests are aware of their obligations under article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC and are aware of the Guidelines developed to assist in meeting these obligations. The Minister for Health had previously written to all Government Ministers and all Government Departments outlining our commitments under Article 5.3. The Guidelines developed in relation to Article 5.3 were also circulated. Government officials are reminded on a regular basis of Ireland's obligations under Article 5.3 when engaging in tobacco related matters.”

 

Italy

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Italy does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference.

 

Kosovo

The 2013 national tobacco control law contains a chapter implementing Article 5.3. FCTC. Provisions include a prohibition of partnerships between the government and the industry, and a prohibition of any support or privileges given to tobacco businesses. 

 

Latvia

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Latvia does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference.

 

Lithuania

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Lithuania reports having adopted specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference, without providing specific details. In 2017, Lithuanian institutions and civil society organisations involved in tobacco control policy co-signed a consensus position regarding their commitment to protect tobacco control policy from interference of the tobacco industry. The focus of this effort is to ensure that tracking and tracing system adoption and implementation according to the TPD would be free from the interests of tobacco companies.

 

Luxembourg

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Luxembourg reports having adopted specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference, without providing specific details.

 

Malta

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Malta reports having adopted national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference, and states that “Administrative policies and work ethics prohibit any conflict.”

 

Montenegro

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Montenegro reports having adopted national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference, and references its tobacco sponsorship, advertising and promotion restrictions. 

 

Netherlands

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, The Netherlands reports having adopted national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It states that: "There is a website available to the public where ministries can publish documents that refer to contact that was needed with representatives of the Tobacco industry for ensuring proper implementing of the law, or unsolicited letters ministries receive from the industry.

It further states: 

- The government set up a document that explains how it interprets article 5.3.

- All governments (from municipalities to ministries) have been informed about article 5.3 and how the government interprets this article.

- A website and protocol about article 5.3 have been developed"

 

Norway

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Norway does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. However it reported that a proposal for a new provision in the Tobacco Control Act implementing Article 5.3 has been in public consultation.

 

Poland

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Poland does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It reports that Guidelines to FCTC Article 5.3 "have been used in intersectoral dialogue as argument for MoH."

 

Portugal

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Portugal reports having in place specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It specifies that members of the technical consultative body to support the implementation of the tobacco law and members of the National Scientific Tobacco Prevention Board of the National Programme may not have any conflict of interest with the tobacco industry.

Furthermore,"the General Directorate of Health published, in 2013, guidelines for the implementation of smoking prevention initiatives at community level. These initiatives should be protected from conflict of interests with tobacco industry. The contacts by the tobacco industry, with the National Programme for Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control, are restricted to exchange of information in the domain of the implementation process of the tobacco law – packaging requirements and ingredients’ reporting information. By law, any smoking prevention campaign cannot be promoted or supported by the tobacco industry."

 

Republic of Moldova

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Moldova reports having in place specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It states that "the new Tobacco Control Law adopted in 2015 contain provisions for protecting public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry and to exclude conflict of interest for public servants."

The Law limits interactions between government (excluding customs agency or any other central public authorities in the case of actions of national interest) and the tobacco industry including prohibiting partnerships, non-binding and unenforceable agreements, and assistance from the tobacco industry with tobacco control policymaking or implementation.  The Law also prohibits voluntary contributions from the tobacco industry (including retailers) to public authorities in the legislative, executive or judicial branches of governments and prescribes management of tobacco-related conflicts of interest in the tobacco control policymaking process. (source: Camapign for Tobacco Free Kids)

 

Romania

In its 2014 implementation report on the FCTC, Romania does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference.

 

Serbia

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Serbia reports having in place specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It specifies that "The previous Tobacco Control Strategy of the Republic of Serbia 2007-2015 in the article 4.4 "Financing tobacco control activities", emphasized that “by no means, partnership and direct funding from the tobacco industry for implementation of tobacco control activities will be accepted”. The same statement will be included in the Strategy of Tobacco Control 2016-2025. The Code of Procedure for the Tobacco Control Council and the National Committee for Tobacco Control specifies that each member should sign the statement that there is no any conflict of interest regarding connection to tobacco industry."

 

Slovakia

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Slovakia reports having adopted specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference, without providing specific details.

 

Slovenia

In its 2014 implementation report on the FCTC, Slovenia reports its Civil Servants Act of 2002, the National Prevention of Corruption Act, the Political Parties Act and the Elections Act as a step towards implementation of Article5.3 FCTC. The 2017 Tobacco Products Act does not contain specific provisions towards Article 5.3, but it provides for the "prohibition of advertising, promotion, and sponsoring of tobacco, tobacco products, and other related products."

 

Spain

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Spain reports having adopted specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It states: "Spanish legislation directs political and administrative activities so that the interests of the sectors do not interfere in the decision-making. In cases in which the participation of economic sectors is necessary, it is established through public documents, by virtue of transparency. Consequently, the activities conform to the guideline, and in turn the guideline is taken into account when marking the guidelines for action. Also they have been used in the preparation of internal reports."

 

Sweden

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Sweden does not report any specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It states:

"Sweden has not adopted any program or any legal measures explicitly aimed at protecting public Health policies from Commercial and other vested interests of the Tobacco industry. There are however general rules of public law, objectivity and impartiality. Provision relating to disqualification of officials due to personal interest serve a related purpose. The NGO, The Swedish Think Tank Tobaksfakta, has in 2014 published a guide about protecting public health policy against tobacco industry: Skydda folkhälsopolitiken mot tobaksindustrin – en vägledning."

 

Ukraine

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, Ukraine reports having adopted specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It states: "Article 4 of the National Tobacco control law declares "priority of the policy in the health protection sphere as compared to financial, tax and corporate interests of economic subjects, the activity of which is related to tobacco industry" and "participation of individuals, citizens’ groups, whose activity is not related to the tobacco industry, in the policies on prevention and reduction of tobacco products consumption and their harmful influence on population’s health"."

 

United Kingdom

In its 2016 implementation report on the FCTC, the UK reports having adopted specific national policies with respect to the protection of public health interests from tobacco industry interference. It states:  

"Healthy Lives Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England" included a chapter entitled “Protecting tobacco Control from vested interests”. Through this plan, the Government committed to delivering further transparency and publishing the details of all policy related meetings between the tobacco industry and Government Departments. This excludes meetings to discuss illicit trade and bilateral meetings between tobacco companies and HM Revenue and Customs. As per FCTC recommendations, face- to-face interactions with tobacco manufacturers are limited to practical matters. Notes from these meetings are published on the DH website.

 

Public consultation documents concerning Tobacco Control ask all respondents to disclose whether they have any direct or indirect links to, or receive funding from, the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry is purposefully not involved in the development of tobacco control strategies. Local authorities are encouraged to follow the Governments lead in this area.

 

In December 2013, The Department of Health held a two day workshop for other government departments on interaction with the tobacco industry. The purpose of the workshop was to raise awareness of the influence the tobacco industry can and has had on policy, to encourage Departments to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensure the transparency of those interactions that occur.

 

Supplementary guidance has been developed to ensure compliance across the Trading Standards Institute (‘TSI’) and local authority trading standards departments (‘TSDs’) who have cause to engage with the tobacco industry regarding counterfeit and illicit tobacco."

 

Over 100 local authorities have also voluntarily signed the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control which relates to Article 5.3 FCTC.

 

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) publishes basic details online about HMRC officials’ meetings with the tobacco industry.

 

The Department of Health issued in December 2013 Revised Guidelines to Overseas Posts on Support to the Tobacco Industry to clarify that posts should limit interactions with the tobacco industry and to conduct interactions, when necessary, with maximum transparency.

 

 

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