Taking on Big Tobacco at the global tobacco treaty negotiations
I arrived in Seoul, South Korea last week from Lucknow, India, and was happy to greet familiar friends and new colleagues from around the world. We all are here for the negotiations of the World Health Organization’s global tobacco treaty, the world’s first public health and corporate accountability treaty.
I’ve been advocating for public health at these negotiations for almost a decade, working alongside my colleagues from Corporate Accountability International’s Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT), a coalition of more than 100 organizations in 50 countries.
As in years past, we bring to these negotiations a strong, unified advocate voice from around the world. And, as in years past, Big Tobacco is doing its best to thwart the progress of the treaty – from sneaking its representatives onto delegations to supporting front groups like farmer and retailer associations to distract from the real work of advancing the world’s most proven and effective tobacco control measures.
This year, as I watch the industry’s tactics unfold before my very eyes, I’m more convinced than ever: NATT’s lifesaving presence here is so crucial.
We have the strategy, determination and conviction it takes to stand up again to Big Tobacco. Already, in just a few short days, we have gained great ground in realizing the full potential of this lifesaving plan for public health. In fact, on the first day, all ratifying countries took a great step forward by unanimously approving the landmark protocol to eliminate the illicit trade of tobacco.
And I know I wouldn’t be here without the support of you, Corporate Accountability International members and supporters. It takes all of us together to take on this industry. Thank you for making the vital work at these negotiations possible.
Follow me on Twitter for the latest, up-to-the-minute developments: @bobbyramakant
Bobby Ramakant works with the Indian Society Against Smoking, ASHA Parivar, and Citizens News Service as the Director of Policy and Programmes. In 2008, he earned the World Health Organization Director-General’s World No Tobacco Day Award.