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Mayor Bloomberg honors Corporate Accountability International, Fundación FES as global tobacco control champions

March 22, 2012

Report finds Big Tobacco continuing to obstruct health treaty

For Immediate Release:
March 22, 2012

John Stewart

SINGAPORE – Alongside the release of a new report documenting how the tobacco industry is actively working to derail tobacco control efforts globally, Mayor Bloomberg is taking the occasion of the World Conference on Tobacco or Health to personally honor countries, organizations and individuals successfully challenging Big Tobacco’s abuses.  

While the mayor and his Bloomberg Philanthropies have played a high profile role in countering the industry’s interference in health policy – notably contributing $375 million to Uruguay’s legal defense of its graphic health warning law – they have also supported a wide range of less publicized, but no less critical, tobacco control advances.

This year’s Bloomberg Award for Global Tobacco Control in Latin America went to Corporate Accountability International and Fundación FES for their successful efforts to advance national tobacco control laws, including a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship in Colombia. In a country with some of the highest rates of youth smoking in the world, the partnership overcame powerful industry opposition. Corporate Accountability International has used lessons learned in Bogotá to work with partner NGOs in countries across the continent, like Ecuador, to advance similar laws. 

“With a fraction of the financial resources of Big Tobacco, people, health advocates and dedicated public officials have long fought the odds against a powerful industry committed to profit no matter the cost to human life,” said honoree and Latin America Director Yul Francisco Dorado of Corporate Accountability International. “With this award, Bloomberg acclaims the effort of countries, large and small, who refused to be intimidated.”

Corporate Accountability International has worked with allies like Campaign for a Tobacco Free Childhood, Framework Convention Alliance, InterAmerican Heart Foundation, Fundación FES and many more to help secure ratification of the global tobacco treaty (formally known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) in more than 170 countries to date. Today the organization is focused on removing the primary obstacle to the treaty’s implementation – tobacco industry interference – to enable passage of strong national laws such as Colombia’s.

A report released this week by the Framework Convention Alliance, “Tobacco watch: Monitoring countries’ performance on the global treaty,” illustrates the critical importance of challenging tobacco industry interference – specifically in insulating tobacco control laws from industry interference.

The report finds that in fifty percent of countries surveyed for the report, the industry is working in direct contravention of the treaty. Examples include:

  • tobacco corporations or affiliates holding consultations with governments
  • revolving doors between the tobacco industry and government agencies; and
  • corporate-sponsored “corporate social responsibility” programs being used in violation of advertising bans.

“It’s advocates like Yul that give us a shot at saving millions of lives in the face of this deadly industry’s intimidation, cooption and coercion,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, director of corporate accountability at Environmental Rights Action, NATT member and past recipient of the Bloomberg award. “And, as this report shows, we need more focus on implementing Article 5.3 if we are to ultimately prevail over Big Tobacco.”

Due in large part to such findings, as well as global advocacy, the World Health Organization has designated May 31, World No Tobacco Day, a global day of action to contest tobacco industry interference in the treaty and related health policies.  

Additional quotes:

"Corporate Accountability International plays a key role in inspiring allies around the world to stand firm against the tobacco industry,” said Dorcas Kiptui, Tobacco Control Progamme Officer, Ministry of Public Health-Kenya, “With the strength of the global tobacco treaty and our allies behind us, we will ensure that public health is safeguarded from the influence of these life robbing, profit-driven corporations.”

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