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November 18, 2020

Tobacco interference index launched

Islamabad

November 18, 2020

Islamabad : The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index has called upon governments to ensure transparency when interacting with the tobacco industry as greater transparency will reduce instances of interference to manipulate tobacco control policies and their implementation processes. The Index has stressed that the tobacco industry should also be made to disclose its expenditures on marketing, lobbying, and philanthropic activities.

The second Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index was launched Tuesday by the Society for Alternative Media and Research (SAMAR), a civil society organisation working for tobacco control in Pakistan. The Pakistan Index was also launched with the Global Index; this civil society report assesses implementation of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC). Pakistan’s ranking has significantly improved from last year’s 66th position to 16th among the 57 countries assessed for tobacco industry interference.

The Index states that governments should require the tobacco industry to submit information on tobacco production, manufacture, market share, marketing expenditure, and revenues. According to the Global Index, seven countries signed MoUs with the tobacco industry in 2019, but these were made public only at signing ceremonies.

According to the Index, the tobacco industry exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to engage with governments to an unusual level with CSR activities. The industry capitalized on the vulnerability of governments facing shortage of resources during the pandemic.

The Pakistan Tobacco Industry Interference Index urges that non-health departments such as the Ministry of Finance must also reject tobacco industry interference. It terms “a holistic government approach” as being the key for effective tobacco control policies. Besides, the tobacco industry should not be given incentives, exemptions, or tax breaks to run its harmful business. Duty-free status of tobacco at duty-free shops should also be removed, the Index states.