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October 20th, 2014:

A front group for Big Tobacco

Sir, In James C Miller III’s letter (October 16), the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) attempts to cast itself as a key stakeholder in setting tobacco taxation policy at last week’s meetings for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. But the Russian government and Secretariat for the treaty were right to renounce ITIC as an arm of the tobacco industry. For all ITIC’s bluster about offering “fact-based taxation advice” and “transparency” in its dealings with governments, the reality is the organisation acts as a front group for big tobacco. Its main financial sponsors includes four of the largest tobacco corporations, including Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco.

Margaret Chan, the World Health Organisation director-general, has many times noted that allowing these bad actors to participate in their own regulation is akin to foxes guarding the hen house. And to this end the treaty has prohibited as much. The strong guidelines on tobacco taxation adopted last week by the 178 countries party to the treaty is tribute to this prohibition.

John Stewart

Corporate Accountability International

Director, Challenge Big Tobacco Campaign