African Region Set to Take Tough Stance in Tobacco Treaty Talks: Courageous Challenge To Big Tobacco
ALGIERS, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Representatives from dozens of African nations are meeting to hammer out the region's position on key issues related to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty currently being negotiated
The results of this week's meeting will determine the African region's positions on crucial issues in the next round of negotiations on the entire treaty, set to take place in Geneva in November. ``The African region has taken a leadership role on this treaty to date, belying the tobacco industry public relations claim that the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is being imposed by Western countries onto the Global South. We expect that African leaders will maintain their tough stance coming out of these talks, and will continue to take the lead in stopping the Marlboro Man's global rampage,'' said Infact's Suren Moodliar, who is attending the meeting in Algiers.
With momentum growing behind the FCTC, the world's three largest tobacco corporations-Philip Morris, B.A.T and Japan Tobacco-are proposing a set of ``voluntary marketing standards.'' As the tobacco transnationals vigorously tout their initiative, Infact, Environmental Rights Action, and other health advocates across the globe are denouncing the industry's self-regulation as an attempt to derail the FCTC. The so-called global standards reportedly being proposed are weaker than the laws in many countries, and fall short of the worldwide ban on tobacco advertising and promotion being advanced by dozens of governments through the FCTC.
``Leaders of African nations will not be fooled into complacency by Big Tobacco's bogus attempt at self-regulation. The goal of these talks is to protect Africa from the kind of tobacco epidemic that has already hit other areas of the world,'' says Akinbode Oluwafemi of Environmental Rights Action, who is also attending the meeting. ``The tobacco industry's goal is the same as it has always been-to profit at the expense of public health.''
The African regional meeting comes just as countries as diverse as South Africa, Botswana, and Nigeria are developing or implementing strict tobacco control legislation. In March, health officials from 21 African countries issued a declaration stating their concern about ``the tobacco industry's efforts to undermine tobacco control policies in Africa.'' These government officials also issued their support for the FCTC to include a global mechanism for monitoring the activities of tobacco transnationals. With the support of many countries targeted by the tobacco transnationals, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution based on that recommendation in May. NGOs are actively pursuing full implementation of the WHA resolution calling for monitoring of tobacco industry political activity leading up to the next global round of treaty negotiations this fall.
Since 1977, Infact has been exposing life-threatening abuses by transnational corporations and organizing successful grassroots campaigns to hold corporations accountable to consumers and society at large. Infact and ERA are members of the Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT), which includes 76 NGOs from 51 countries working for a strong, enforceable Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. For more information visit www.infact.org or www.iwr2001.org.