Sunday , June 24, 2018

WHO warns of intensified tobacco industry interference

THE World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday warned member-states against the intensified efforts of the tobacco industry to interfere in the implementation of tobacco control policies saying succumbing to it may weaken public health programs.

In a statement, the WHO said there is a need for member-states to be more vigilant against efforts of the tobacco industry to water down tobacco control programs.

“This is a busy time and a challenging moment. The tobacco industry is intensifying its effort to interfere with public health policies. More than ever, we must be vigilant and act to protect what we have achieved by developing and implementing the WHO-FCTC,” said the WHO.

Citing the 2016 Tobacco Industry Interference Index Report, the WHO said it is objectionable how tobacco industry continues to interfere through both “overt and covert means”.

“The tobacco industry continues to interfere with, deter and thwart governments' efforts to protect public health through both overt and covert means,” said the WHO.

And in a bid to help member-states thwart tobacco industry interference, the WHO gave several recommendations, namely:

-Procedures need to be put in place to reduce tobacco industry participation in policy development in every country.

-Transparency is needed in dealing with the tobacco industry, and this is a major area that needs improvement.

-A whole-of-government approach is vital for FCTC Article 5.3 implementation. A practical way forward would be to adopt a Code of Conduct for government officials.

-Ban corporate social responsibility activities by the tobacco industry.

-Require tobacco companies to disclose and report on all expenditure on marketing, retailer incentives, philanthropy, lobbying and political contributions.

“We urge everyone to collaborate strongly and resist tobacco industry interference so we can end the scourge brought by tobacco once and for all,” said WHO. (HDT/Sunnex)