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Can e-cigarettes help save lives? It’s complicated

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Big Tobacco Is Funding the Anti-Smoking Lobby

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Good country practices in the implementation of WHO FCTC Article 5.3

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2018 Global Progress Report on Implementation of the WHO FCTC

FCTC Treaty – Hong Kong is still non compliant

Sadly Hong Kong is not amongst the 71 parties who have successfully implemented Article 5.3 and tobacco front legislators are not prevented from interfering in tobacco control legislation which they do with abandon.

One Liberal party legislator (Shiu) openly stated on Legco TV that he was ‘the representative of the tobacco industry in Legco’. Wong Ting-Kwong is an admitted advisor to the Tobacco Control Concern Group. Paul Tse is a supporter of HKUAIT /Stopit front group which is funded by PMI and the Coalition on Tobacco Affairs.

The Liberal Party and perhaps others are suspected to have been funded by the tobacco industry for many years (based on their actions and efforts on behalf of this industry in Legco) , but there is still no legislation to command the release of political party funding sources.

Long time Liberal member ($20) Tommy Cheung forecast doom and gloom for the catering industry and opposed initial Cap371 legislation here- of course this smokescreen has been proven to be, a smokescreen with massive increases in that industry’s receipts.

The funding of political parties under FCTC is frowned upon and where such funding exists the Government is required to ensure that such funding is revealed. When can we expect this to happen?

China (and thereby Hong Kong and Macau ) ratified the FCTC treaty in October 2005 – 13 years ago and numerous articles are not yet transposed into Hong Kong legislation.

The Treaty is a legal binding international instrument.

Neither has the Government yet adopted the FCTC requirement for all Government public officials /employees to declare and divest any and all tobacco stakeholdings; the MPFA allows its Trustees to invest in unethical shares whilst the MFPA own shareholdings have been divested of tobacco shareholdings. Regina Ip admitted on Legco TV to holding tobacco company shareholdings. Legco, Exco, members, District Councillors are confirmed by the ICAC to be public officials.

The FCTC directs parties to use tax preventive measures in excess of the inflation rate and other EFFECTIVE annual /regular tax increases on tobacco products to prevent youth initiation and to improve smoking cessation.

Increasing tax helps blue collar families – it does not punish them as certain legislators contend. Quitting leaves more money for the family food.

The local prevalence rate for males is higher than most western countries and overall prevalence is brought down by the ultra low female rate.

The last tax increase here was 2014, it was not effective and was too minimal hence tobacco remains affordable. As a result legal cigarette sales have INCREASED since then. (Source HK Customs)
Hong Kong is in breach of the FCTC requirements to implement all FCTC Articles into local law and prima facie in breach of Article 60 of the UN Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

Article 5.3 of the FCTC obligates Parties to “act to protect” their public health policies from the tobacco industry and other vested interests.

If Parties are working to advance the interests of the tobacco industry by allowing vested interests to deliberately hinder anti- tobacco legislation, they cannot be said to be protecting policies from the vested interests of the industry.



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Tobacco industry-funded Foundation fits in a longestablished and sinister pattern of corporate chicanery

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Removal of tobacco industry from interagency committee gets support

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35 countries announced a new commitment in tobacco control measures

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letter sent by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World founder

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WHO Statement on Philip Morris funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

WHO statement

28 September 2017

On 13 September 2017, tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) announced its support for the establishment of a new entity – the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. PMI indicated that it expects to support the Foundation by contributing approximately USD 80 million annually over the next 12 years.

The UN General Assembly has recognized a “fundamental conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health.” (1) WHO Member States have stated that “WHO does not engage with the tobacco industry or non-State actors that work to further the interests of the tobacco industry”, (2) the Organization will therefore not engage with this new Foundation.

Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) obliges Parties to act to protect public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law. Guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 state clearly that governments should limit interactions with the tobacco industry and avoid partnership. These Guidelines are also explicit that Governments should not accept financial or other contributions from the tobacco industry or those working to further its interests, such as this Foundation.

Strengthening implementation of the WHO FCTC for all tobacco products remains the most effective approach to tobacco control. Policies such as tobacco taxes, graphic warning labels, comprehensive bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and offering help to quit tobacco use have been proven to reduce demand for tobacco products. These policies focus not just on helping existing users to quit, but on preventing initiation.

If PMI were truly committed to a smoke-free world, the company would support these policies. Instead, PMI opposes them. PMI engages in large scale lobbying and prolonged and expensive litigation against evidence-based tobacco control policies such as those found in the WHO FCTC and WHO’s MPOWER tobacco control, which assists in implementation of the WHO FCTC. For example, just last year PMI lost a six year investment treaty arbitration with Uruguay, in which the company spent approximately US$ 24 million to oppose large graphic health warnings and a ban on misleading packaging in a country with fewer than four million inhabitants.

There are many unanswered questions about tobacco harm reduction (3), but the research needed to answer these questions should not be funded by tobacco companies.

The tobacco industry and its front groups have misled the public about the risks associated with other tobacco products. This includes promoting so-called light and mild tobacco products as an alternative to quitting, while being fully aware that those products were not less harmful to health. Such misleading conduct continues today with companies, including PMI, marketing tobacco products in ways that misleadingly suggest that some tobacco products are less harmful than others.

This decades-long history means that research and advocacy funded by tobacco companies and their front groups cannot be accepted at face value. When it comes to the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, there are a number of clear conflicts of interest involved with a tobacco company funding a purported health foundation, particularly if it promotes sale of tobacco and other products found in that company’s brand portfolio. WHO will not partner with the Foundation. Governments should not partner with the Foundation and the public health community should follow this lead.

WHO tells governments to reject Philip Morris-funded smoking foundation

The World Health Organization told governments on Thursday not to get involved in a foundation funded by tobacco firm Philip Morris International to look at ways of reducing the harm from smoking.

The U.N. health body said there was a conflict of interest in a tobacco firm funding such research – drawing a sharp rebuke from the Foundation’s head who said his work was independent.

Philip Morris International said this month it wanted to help set up a body called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World and planned to give it about $80 million a year for 12 years to keep it running.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the WHO’s statement.

The U.N. body said on Thursday there were already proven techniques to tackle smoking – including tobacco taxes, graphic warning labels and advertising bans – which the tobacco industry had opposed in the past.

“WHO will not partner with the Foundation. Governments should not partner with the Foundation and the public health community should follow this lead,” it said.

The foundation’s founder and president-designate, Derek Yach, a former senior official at the WHO, said more collaboration, not less, was needed to win the war on smoking.

“I am deeply disappointed, therefore, by WHO’s complete mischaracterisation of the nature, structure and intent of the Foundation in its recent statements – and especially by its admonition to others not to work together.”

He said the foundation was a non-profit organization with strict rules to insulate it from the influence of the tobacco industry, and its research agenda would be subject to peer review.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Toby Chopra and Andrew Heavens