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Pepsi to print ‘public water source’ on Labels

Pepsi to print ‘public water source’ on Labels

After years of mounting pressure against corporate control of water and demand for accountability, Pepsi has agreed to provide consumers with more information about the source of the water used for their bottled water brand ‘Aquafina’. In direct response to a national day of action earlier this month, Pepsi agreed to spell out “Public Water Source” on the Aquafina label.

As part of the ‘Think Outside the Bottle’ campaign, thousands of people have been urging Pepsi to make changes in the Aquafina label, which includes an image of snow-capped mountains and states “pure water, perfect taste”. Though the image implies that the source of Aquafina is mountain spring water, it actually uses tap water as its source. In fact, up to 40% of bottled water uses tap water as its source.

“Pepsi’s response to the Think Outside the Bottle campaign is an important first step,” says Gigi Kellett, Think Outside the Bottle Campaign Director. “Concerns about the bottled water industry, and increasing corporate control of water, are growing across the country. It is significant that Pepsi is taking some action, especially since Aquafina is the leading bottled water brand in the US.”

Pepsi’s decision to change the Aquafina label comes in the midst of growing national attention to the bottled water industry. Last month San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom banned city spending on bottled water and the US Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution highlighting the importance of public water systems and the negative impact of bottled water. According to San Francisco city-government officials, the ban is part of an effort to combat global warming and save taxpayer money. The mayor cited the enormous environmental impact of making, transporting and disposing of the bottles as the reason behind the ban on bottled water. Other public agencies and the private sector in the United States, as well as in other countries where potable drinking water can be drawn from the tap, should learn from his example.

Global consumption of bottled water had increased by 57 percent during 1999-2004 according to the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute. In 1999, it was 98 billion litres which rose up to 154 billion litres by 2004. The US, other Western industrialised countries and populous developing countries like China, Mexico and Brazil were among the top consumers of bottled water.

Some of the most alarming increase in bottled-water consumption has taken place in developing countries, including Thailand where water companies have aggressively promoted bottled water as part of a modern, healthy lifestyle, indirectly implying that tap water supply is unhealthy. Most consumers seem oblivious to the fact that bottled water is up to 1,000 times more expensive than tap water.

Most people in the world won’t have access to enough water within 20 years, according to the United Nations, and the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) projects 36 states in the U.S. will experience water shortages even sooner.

People in the U.S. spent $11 billion on bottled water last year, and Pepsi’s Aquafina generated $1.3 billion in revenues in 2005.

In addition to revealing the sites and sources of water used for bottling, the Think Outside the Bottle campaign calls on Pepsi, Coke and Nestlé to publicly report breaches in water quality, comparable to reports by public water systems, and to stop threatening local control of water when siting and operating bottling plants.

As natural rights, water rights are also usufructuary rights, that is, water can be used but not owned. People have a right to life and the resources that sustain it, such as water.

The necessity of water to life is why, under customary laws, the right to water has been accepted as a natural, social fact.

That is why governments and corporations cannot alienate people of their water rights. Water rights come from nature and creation. They flow from the laws of nature, not from the rules of the market.

Women Farmers fast against Reliance Maha-Mumbai SEZ

Women Farmers fast against Reliance Maha-Mumbai SEZ


Seventeen farmers and activists from twenty four villages in Raigad District of Maharashtra have gone on indefinite fast since 19 July 2007. This is a symbolic non-violent struggle against the unabated land acquisition by the Reliance group for their 10,000-hectare-plus Maha-Mumbai SEZ (special economic zone).

It is high time for India to recognize the community for which development should be geared for. Development projects have been very often the cause of displacement and devastation for one of the most underserved communities. The Reliance Maha-Mumbai SEZ is just one of them.

The protest fast has been undertaken to demand withdrawal of Notification section 6 pertaining to land acquisition for SEZ projects which has not happened in spite of Maharashtra Chief Minister's public statements to this effect.

Although the Chief Minister had made a statement on the floor of the House that no 'forced acquisition' would take place in the state for SEZ projects, the notification permitting the land acquisition has not been withdrawn.

Women farmers and activists are on the forefront of the struggle and more than 50% of those sitting on the fast are women at the Tehsil headquarters in Pen (Raigad district).

Local Officials who met the farmers today spoke to activists Anant Patil and Ulka Mahajan who have demanded suspension of the corrupt Talati instrumental in fake sale deals for the SEZ. Activists also informed the official that top level Reliance officials in cohort with local agents have been involved in fake land acquisition.

Supports and solidarity groups are flooding the struggle site since morning of 19 July 2007 from Mumbai, Pune and other areas. Datta Iswalkar From Giringoan, Kamgar Sanghatana, Gjanan Khatu from People's Political front, and Prabhakar Narkar and Ramakant Patil from Janta Dal also visited the site and sat on dharna with the farmers almost the whole day on 19 July in support of the demands made by the farmers.

The key demands include:

* Stop forced acquisition and withdraw the section 6 notification immediately as assured on the state legislature floor by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra

* Declare the fraudulent land deals done by local agents on behalf of Reliance group illegal

* Public declaration by Collector listing land deals pertaining to SEZ

* Exclude 22 villages, of Pen, Raigad, and Maharashtra from the Maha-Mumbai SEZ

* Due to the polluted acidic water seeping in the farms by IPCL of Reliance Industries, Patalganga, the harvest has been totally destroyed. Activists demand just investigation in the pollution issue, and the farmers must be compensated for their loss for the paddy crop

It is high time that our policy makers and judiciary are reminded of Gandhiji's Talisman. One of the last notes left behind by Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, expressed his deepest social thought, which certainly gives the most righteous light and direction for development programmes - "I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."

Time to do some introspection.

Youth appeal to United Nations to prioritise health

Youth appeal to United Nations to prioritise health


Ban ki Moon, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General will receive concerns of over a million youth from around the world, including South Korea, voicing concern on health issues in September 2007.

The young people of the world have raised vital concerns for UN to act upon. These concerns include:

- Nearly one-third of the children in the developing world remain under nourished or stunted, while 30% of the developing world's population suffers from deficiencies of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)
- The number of overweight and obese children has more than doubled in the last 25 years, carrying the risk of several chronic diseases in adulthood
- Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years - to 300,000 people a year
- Globally the number of people suffering from asthma has increased nearly 50% because of worsening air pollution
- By 2025, one third of world's population would not have access to any form of water
- Worldwide, 5 million people die of tobacco related diseases each year. The World Health Organization has predicted that by the year 2025, 500 million people worldwide will have died from tobacco related illnesses
- Of the estimated 39.5 million people living with HIV in 2006, young people (below 25 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide - around 6,000 become infected with HIV every day. Women accounted for 48% of all adults living with HIV worldwide and are especially vulnerable in conditions of gender inequality.

UN had identified Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for equitable social development, poverty alleviation and improvement in the health of global populations. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world's countries and leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the poorest. Halfway to a 2015 deadline, there has been clear progress towards implementing the Millennium Development Goals. But their overall success is still far from assured, Millennium Development Goals Progress Report 2007 prepared by the United Nations has found.

Youth-For-Health (http://y4h.hriday-shan.org/una.php) initiated a global campaign to mobilize youth to strengthen advocacy efforts to make their voices heard, and be counted. The campaign believes that many of the present policies, which have a profound impact on health, development and environment, are likely to impact adversely on the present and future health of our generation. The campaign urges the United Nations to seriously consider how such policies can be recast to promote and protect the health in a sustainable manner.

Global Youth Action on Tobacco (GYAT) - www.gyatnetwork.org - a worldwide network of hundreds of youth with a significant representation from developing countries - has demonstrated commitment to improve the quality and accountability of tobacco control responses, by facilitating information, dialogue and advocacy platforms for engaging youth in a meaningful and inclusive manner - globally. Young people leading GYAT have been monitoring tobacco industry interference in health policy around the world and have played a key role in building youth leadership in health initiatives globally.


The Youth-For-Health has come up with a charter which calls for:
- Strict enforcement of food and agricultural policies which will make healthy food (like fruits and vegetables) available to all at affordable prices and regulate unhealthy foods (like those containing high proportions of trans-fats and refined sugars)
- Urban planning which promotes safe and pleasurable physical activity (by providing green areas, safe pedestrian pathways and protected cycle lanes)
- Strong tobacco control policies and programmes; establishing smoke-free public and work places to overcome the hazards associated with passive smoking
- Peer to peer learning to prevent HIV/AIDS among youth
- Augmenting gender equality and gender respect
- Peace and non violent resolution of conflicts
- Effectively disseminating heath awareness through mass media

It is encouraging to see informed youth voices getting centre-stage in advocating for a better world. Although health policy discourses have been dominated by 'experts' for long, it will be a major shift in recognising the wisdom of giving a space for the young people to participate meaningfully in the discourses for policy change.

Published in:


The Seoul Times (South Korea): 24 July 2007


The Scoop Independent News (New Zealand): 23 July 2007


The Central Chronicle (India): 20 July 2007

148 Nations to Protect Health Policy From Tobacco Industry Interference


148 Nations to Protect Health Policy From Tobacco Industry Interference

7 July 2007

BANGKOK — The 148 nations meeting at the Second Conference of Parties (COP2) to the global tobacco treaty have committed themselves to develop specific guidelines for protecting health policy from tobacco industry interference.

The global tobacco treaty, formally known as the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), will save millions of lives and change the way tobacco corporations operate around the world. Members of the Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) commend Parties for their vigilance in protecting ongoing treaty implementation from interference by the tobacco industry.

Article 5.3 of the FCTC obligates Parties to "protect these [public health] policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry." Allowing tobacco corporations to influence tobacco control policy violates both the spirit and letter of the FCTC. Parties demonstrated strong leadership at COP2 in taking the decision to push forward with policy guidelines to implement Article 5.3.

"Big Tobacco's interference in health policy is one of the greatest threats to the global tobacco treaty's implementation and enforcement," explains Kathryn Mulvey of Corporate Accountability International, a NATT member. "Philip Morris/Altria, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco (JT) use their political influence to weaken, delay and defeat tobacco control legislation around the world. While the industry claims to have changed its ways, it continues to use sophisticated methods to undermine meaningful legislation."
South Africa has long been a leader in tobacco control, and recently advanced a bill to close loopholes and strengthen its tobacco control laws. A month prior to the parliamentary deliberations on the bill, both Swedish Match and the Tobacco Institute of South Africa sent letters to the Health Portfolio Committee asking for the inclusion of a provision that would empower the health minister to exempt certain tobacco products. Unfortunately, the tobacco corporations were partially successful in shaping the debate in their favor. Later, Swedish Match and BAT sponsored a foreign tour for more than 20 South African legislators to Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Members of NATT also highlighted tobacco industry interference at COP2. " Japan attempted to bully other countries by reminding them of Japan 's significant contributions to the COP budget," says Akinbode Oluwafemi of Environmental Rights Action, a member of NATT from Nigeria . "However, the Japanese government owns 50% of Japan Tobacco. Japan 's contribution to support the global tobacco treaty represents less than 1% of its share of Japan Tobacco's profits."

Government officials in Thailand are fighting back. "In my country, tobacco corporations, led by Philip Morris/Altria, have been exploiting our tobacco tax policy by dramatically underreporting the cost of cigarettes thereby lowering the amount of taxes the corporations owe," explains Dr. Hatai Chitanondh, President of Thailand Health Promotion Institute. "For example, Philip Morris/Altria reports Marlboro to cost just 7 baht per pack (22 cents). We have calculated the loss from the tobacco industry to be upwards of 650 million dollars."

Thailand joined Brazil , Ecuador , Palau , and the Netherlands in volunteering to lead a process to develop policies to bolster the capacity of government to challenge these types of interference and to implement their obligations under Article 5.3 of the treaty. According to Dr. Chitanondh, "the development of guidelines on Article 5.3 is a major step forward and will help Parties to protect their national health policies from tobacco industry interference."

"From Africa to Latin America to the Middle East and Southeast Asia , we are hearing of attempts to interfere at the highest levels of government. Fortunately, parties have taken the critical step of initiating the policy guidelines process to assist governments in standing up to Big Tobacco's attempts to interfere," explains Mulvey. Corporate Accountability International, formerly Infact, is a membership organization that protects people by waging and winning campaigns challenging irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions around the world. For 30 years, we've forced corporations—like Nestlé, General Electric and Philip Morris/Altria—to stop abusive actions. Corporate Accountability International, an NGO in Official Relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), played a key role in development of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).


UN report paints mixed picture

UN report paints mixed picture

The United Nations will publish the most comprehensive global assessment on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on Monday, (2 July 2007), with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launching the report in Geneva.

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007 comes at the midpoint of a 15-year effort to implement eight key development objectives which world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015, including halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. The report paints a mixed picture - there has been clear progress but overall success is still far from assured.

In Asia-Pacific, dramatic gains in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger have been accompanied by rapidly rising inequality, particularly in East Asia. At the same time, Asia's path to the MDGs may be obstructed by challenges in other areas-such as health, environment and gender equality.

These include deforestation, unplanned urbanization and the fast rate of HIV/AIDS infections in some parts of the region.

Progress in improving child nutrition is still unacceptably slow. If current trends continue, the report says, Asia will fall short of reaching the MDG target of halving the proportion of underweight children. South-East Asia is among the sub-regions with the highest percentage of children under five suffering from malnutrition --28 per cent. Asia is also lagging in meeting the goal of promoting gender equality, the report finds, noting that large numbers of women are still shut out of jobs and receive poor health care.

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007 is the most comprehensive assessment of progress towards the MDGs, using data gathered by over 20 organizations both within and outside the UN system.

The Asia-Pacific regional launch will take place in Bangkok at 1100 at the United Nations Conference Centre. Shigeru Mochida, Deputy Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), will present the report. He will be joined by Ms. Erna Witoelar, United Nations Special Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals for Asia and the Pacific, and heads/ representatives of some UN agencies in Bangkok.

Published in:


INDIA: CENTRAL CHRONICLE: 2 July 2007: http://www.centralchronicle.com/20070702/0207307.htm


SOUTH KOREA: THE SEOUL TIMES: 3 JULY 2007: http://www.theseoultimes.com/ST/db/read.php?idx=5472

148 Nations meet as Parties to Global Tobacco Treaty at COP-II

148 Nations meet as Parties to Global Tobacco Treaty at COP-II
2 July 2007


Governments urged to strengthen measures to prevent tobacco industry interference at COP-II

BANGKOK: The global tobacco treaty's second Conference of the Parties (COP2), commenced on last Friday (30 June), where governments met to advance the critical work of implementing the world's first corporate accountability treaty. Formally known as the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the treaty is designed to reverse the global tobacco epidemic, which is projected to claim 10 million lives per year by 2030, primarily in the Global South.

Developing countries that championed a strong, enforceable treaty throughout negotiations are expected to push for rigorous enforcement and to stand firm in their resistance to powerful tobacco industry interference. Items on the agenda for the meeting include: tobacco smuggling, protection from exposure to tobacco smoke and tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Ongoing funding and protection of health policy from interference by tobacco corporations will also be addressed.

"Big Tobacco's interference in health policy is one of the greatest threats to the treaty's implementation and enforcement. Philip Morris/Altria, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco (JT) use their political influence to weaken, delay and defeat tobacco control legislation around the world," explains Corporate Accountability International's Kathryn Mulvey. "While the industry claims to have changed its ways, it continues to use sophisticated methods to undermine meaningful legislation."

Thailand helped to set the pace for strong enforcement of the global tobacco treaty when the government closed the point-of-sale loophole in its tobacco advertising ban in 2005, and then rigorously enforced the policy change. Thai officials have evidence that Philip Morris/Altria continued paying 7-Eleven convenience stores to put up special displays in designated locations even after the loophole was closed. Health officials remained vigilant and succeeded in having the ads removed.

Members of the Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnational (NATT) are urging governments to include specific measures to guard against tobacco industry interference in the protocols and guidelines that emerge from COP2. Decisions made in Bangkok will guide effective implementation of the treaty at the global and national levels, and help Parties overcome tobacco industry opposition.

"In Kenya, our government was successful in issuing a ban on public smoking and requiring larger health warnings on cigarette packets, but BAT's subsidiary complained the rules were untenable on the grounds that they were not consulted. Then the tobacco giant sued the government in an attempt to prevent the regulations from taking effect," says Emma Wanyonyi of Consumers Information Network, a member of NATT in Kenya. "We need stronger, more explicit measures to ensure that our public health policies and their implementation are protected from tobacco industry interference."
NATT members have documented cases of Philip Morris/Altria and British American Tobacco interfering in treaty ratification and implementation across the globe. However, NGOs and health officials remain optimistic about the treaty's enforcement and implementation.

"More than 145 countries, including over 80% of the world's population, have committed to the obligations of the global tobacco treaty," says Gallage Punyawardana Alvis of the Swarna Hansa Foundation, a NATT member from Sri Lanka. "We are confident that the second Conference of the Parties will set up structures to fulfill these commitments, without interference from the tobacco industry or countries that have not ratified the treaty."

Published in:


2 July 2007: Asian Tribune: http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/6364

3 July 2007: The Seoul Times: http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=5471

Tobacco curbs: India leads alternative crop plan


Tobacco curbs: India leads alternative crop plan

Rediff Business News
4 July 2007

Today -- two days before the 148 nations' meet on global tobacco treaty comes to an end in Bangkok -- India demonstrated leadership on behalf of countries in South-East Asian Region to integrate agricultural diversification and alternative crops to tobacco in the comprehensive tobacco control as FCTC proposes. Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is the first global corporate accountability and public health treaty in the world.

The 2000 report of the World Health Organization Committee of Experts on Tobacco Industry Documents reveals transnational tobacco corporations' strategy to make prominent use of the International Tobacco Growers Association. The report continues, "ITGA claims to represent the interests of local farmers. The [tobacco corporations'] documents, however, indicate that tobacco companies have funded the organization and directed its work. Through their persistent outreach to officials from developing countries, these companies gradually built a support within UN agencies and structures, most notably the World Health Assembly and Food and Agriculture Organization."

Though transnational tobacco corporations like Philip Morris/Altria, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco use sophisticated public relations machinery to claim that tobacco-related agriculture creates jobs and boosts economic development, the facts speak otherwise.


Transnational tobacco corporations have created a supply system that exploits farmers while assuring growth in corporate profits. In February 2007, the Ad-hoc Study Group on Agricultural Diversification and Crop Alternatives to Tobacco of FCTC held its first session in Brazil.
Tobacco industry attempts to interfere in agricultural diversification:

Transnational tobacco corporations have supported and sustained a production system that has undermined human health and stifled human development. Therefore, in keeping with WHA Resolution 54.18 and FCTC Article 5.3, these corporations should not be at the table discussing alternatives to tobacco production.

Acting as a mouthpiece for the tobacco industry, ITGA and its country chapters have spread misinformation and attempted to influence tobacco growers in countries such as Brazil , Argentina , India , South Africa , Zimbabwe, Malawi and Kenya as a strategy to slow down or block ratification and implementation of the FCTC. The chief executive of ITGA spoke on behalf of eight government and non-governmental organizations at the public hearing on agricultural diversification and alternative crops to tobacco held in Brazil in February 2007, claiming to represent governments and farmers, while neglecting to reveal ITGA's connection to the tobacco transnationals.

Tobacco corporations' involvement in Brazilian tobacco control policy is especially troubling. Brazil's sectoral chamber for the tobacco production chain includes representatives from Souza Cruz (British American Tobacco's Brazilian subsidiary), the association of Brazilian tobacco growers (an arm of the International Tobacco Growers Association with its own well established ties to BAT), and Brazil's ministry of agriculture, among others. The chamber provides a direct forum for tobacco industry representatives to meet formally with members of government about tobacco control policy, in violation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC. As the world's second-largest producer of tobacco, Brazil provides a powerful case study on the dangers of creating space for the tobacco industry in deliberations about tobacco control.

The social and economic failures delivered by the production system engineered by transnational tobacco corporations make it incumbent upon governments to implement Article 5.3 of the FCTC fully -- which includes shielding their efforts to develop alternatives to tobacco-intensive agriculture from the transnational tobacco corporations that have a vested interest in maintaining the current failed system.

In this regard, the working group on social and economic challenges for tobacco alternatives and crop diversification noted, "the tobacco industry may have influence on regional policymakers and legislators, and on the regional agricultural policy."

Support to farmers and tobacco growing countries is vital.

Only five of the 125 tobacco exporting nations derive more than 5 per cent of their export from tobacco. These five nations are concentrated at the bottom of UNDP's 2006 Human Development Index: Uganda , Zimbabwe , United Republic of Tanzania, Malawi , and the Central African Republic . Far from being a path to prosperity, tobacco production paves the way to poverty.

Tobacco corporations, their subsidiaries and affiliates should play no role in decisions related to agricultural diversification because, as highlighted by the study group, the industry's definition of diversification differs fundamentally from that of the public health community.

It is vital that the FCTC find ways to support the farmers, agricultural workers, and communities that have grown dependent on a tobacco economy. These nations suffer development set-backs as a result of their tobacco production.

Wealthy countries that have chartered, assisted and benefited from the international expansion of tobacco transnationals bear a responsibility to make transition away from tobacco-dependent economies viable. FCTC urges developed countries to channel resources, based on specific requests, to developing countries for implementation of the convention.

FCTC should also advance proposals for debt relief for farmers tied to transnational tobacco corporations through the current financing system, and communicate clearly about phased transitions that support farmers and build their trust in tobacco control measures.

Online at: http://www.rediff.com/money/2007/jul/04tobacco.htm

Insulate FCTC from industry interference


Insulate FCTC from industry interference
Central Chronicle, India
4 July 2007
----------

Protecting FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) from tobacco industry interference is most vital. "Tobacco companies are undermining [tobacco control] legislations in many countries" said Dr Douglas Betcher, Head of Tobacco Free Initiative at World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO and its member states were undoubtedly forward-thinking in their adoption of Article 5.3 of the FCTC which obligates Parties to "protect these [public health] policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry" but they are not yet following through with explicit legislations or regulations to enforce it.

Allowing tobacco corporations to influence tobacco control policy violates both the spirit and letter of the FCTC. World Health Assembly resolution 54.18, the FCTC preamble and FCTC articles 12(e) and 20.4(c) provide governments with the support of the international community to stand up to interference from Big Tobacco.

"Big Tobacco's interference in health policy is one of the greatest threats to the treaty's implementation and enforcement. Philip Morris/Altria, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco (JT) use their political influence to weaken, delay and defeat tobacco control legislation around the world," explains Corporate Accountability International's Kathryn Mulvey.

"While the industry claims to have changed its ways, it continues to use sophisticated methods to undermine meaningful legislation."

Developing countries that championed a strong, enforceable treaty throughout negotiations are expected to push for rigorous enforcement and to stand firm in their resistance to powerful tobacco industry interference.

"In Kenya, our government was successful in issuing a ban on public smoking and requiring larger health warnings on cigarette packets, but BAT's subsidiary complained the rules were untenable on the grounds that they were not consulted. Then the tobacco giant sued the government in an attempt to prevent the regulations from taking effect," says Emma Wanyonyi of Consumers Information Network, a member of NATT (Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals) in Kenya.

"Now the integrity of the treaty and the effectiveness of national tobacco control policies based on it, hinge upon the measures Parties are taking to meet their obligations under Article 5.3 of the FCTC" says Gallage Punyawardana Alvis of the Swarna Hansa Foundation, a NATT member from Sri Lanka.

NATT members are urging governments to ensure that protocols and guidelines emerging from COP-II include specific measures to guard against tobacco industry interference and reinforce Article 5.3.


Online at: http://www.centralchronicle.com/20070704/0407307.htm

Tobacco watch on public health policy

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tobacco watch on public health policy
Special to The Japan Times
BANGKOK — A powerful consensus is emerging among health advocates and public officials around the world that the tobacco industry should not have any influence on public health policies.
The World Health Organization's FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) enshrines this concept. The COP-II (Conference of Parties) meeting for the global tobacco treaty begins at the end of this month in Thailand.
Japan ratified the FCTC on June 8, 2004, and a Japanese governmental delegation will participate at COP-II. The FCTC was the first global public health and corporate accountability treaty, taking effect more than two years ago ( Feb. 27, 2005).
A major issue related to effective enforcement of FCTC provisions among the 147 member countries is to ensure adequate financial resources. Tobacco is the world's leading cause of preventable death, killing 5 million people per year.
Recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a generous commitment of $ 125 million, which represents four times the 2006-2007 biennial budget of WHO's Tobacco-Free Initiative. Tobacco control advocates in priority countries can tap into this funding for policy, media and monitoring initiatives.
All countries benefit when the cycle of tobacco dependence is broken. Tobacco-control policies have been shown to be good for the world's economies.
The World Bank estimates that high-income countries spend up to 15 percent of their health-care budgets to treat tobacco-related illnesses. In 2002, China spent $ 3.5 billion on health-care costs attributable to tobacco. If these costs were reduced by just 20 percent, China could afford to hire more than half a million additional primary school teachers.
Wealthy countries that have chartered, assisted and benefited from the international expansion of tobacco transnationals bear a responsibility to make a viable transition away from tobacco-dependent economies. Political realities in the developing world could help speed up implementation of the treaty.
Japan paid $ 87 million in 2006 to support the WHO — more than any other nation. Yet that support represents only 10 percent of the Japanese government's share of Japan Tobacco's annual profits.
Seventy-nine percent of the world's tobacco was sourced in developing nations in the late 1990s, up from 52 percent four decades earlier. Countries that have most aggressively embraced tobacco production have not seen advances in development. Only five of the 125 tobacco-exporting nations derive more than 5 percent of their export income from tobacco.
These five nations are concentrated at the bottom of United Nations Development Program's 2006 Human Development Index: Uganda (ranked 145 of 177 nations); Zimbabwe (151 of 177), deriving nearly a third of its export income from tobacco; United Republic of Tanzania (162 of 177); Malawi (166 of 177), deriving more than half of its export income from tobacco; and the Central African Republic (172 of 177).
Far from being a path to prosperity, tobacco production paves the way to poverty. Corporate Accountability International (CAI) has played a key role as a civil society watch organization along with Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals from the first discussions of WHO's FCTC. It continues to do so, monitoring the tobacco industry and gathering evidence to protect public health.
At the forthcoming COP-II meeting in Thailand, CAI will release a report that has compiled information from civil society members across the world on the three major issues impeding FCTC implementation, and makes recommendations for effective enforcement. These three public health challenges are:
* To protect public health policy from tobacco industry influence.
* To prevent tobacco industry interference in agricultural diversification efforts — alternative crops to tobacco.
* To ensure full funding of FCTC implementation programs.
Article 5.3 of the FCTC obligates parties to "protect these (public health) policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry."
Furthermore, WHA (World Health Assembly) Resolution 54.18 states that corporations involved in the tobacco industry should not be at the table discussing alternatives to tobacco production.
It is imperative that the three concerns raised by the CAI report get the due attention they deserve.

Alert to protect global tobacco treaty before COP-II begins in Thailand

Alert to protect global tobacco treaty before COP-II begins in Thailand

The 2nd Conference of Parties (COP-II) meeting for Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) – the first global public health and corporate accountability treaty shall begin at the end of this month in Thailand .

Corporate Accountability International (CAI, formerly Infact ) has played a key-role as civil society watch organization along with Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) from the very initial discussions of World Health Organization's FCTC. It continues to play a pivotal role in monitoring tobacco industry and gathering evidence to protect the public health. At the forthcoming COP-II meeting in Thailand, CAI is releasing a ground-breaking report which compiles evidence from civil society members across the world in outlining the three major issues impeding the FCTC implementation. These three public health challenges are:

- To protect public health policy from tobacco industry influence
- To prevent tobacco industry interference in agricultural diversification and alternative crops to tobacco
- To ensure full-funding of FCTC implementation programme

There is an emerging powerful consensus among health advocates and public officials around the world that the tobacco industry should have no influence on public health policies. The World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) enshrines this concept in international law.

Article 5.3 of the FCTC obligates Parties to "protect these [public health] policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry." Allowing tobacco corporations to influence tobacco control policy violates both the spirit and letter of the FCTC.

Unfortunately, Big Tobacco's interference in health policy continues to be one of the greatest threats to the treaty's implementation and enforcement. Philip Morris/ Altria, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco (JT) use their political influence to weaken, delay and defeat tobacco control legislation around the world. While the industry claims to have changed its ways, it continues to use sophisticated methods to undermine meaningful legislation.

Transnational tobacco corporations have supported and sustained a production system that has undermined human health and stifled human development. Therefore, in keeping with WHA (World Health Assembly) Resolution 54.18 and FCTC Article 5.3, these corporations SHOULD NOT be at the table discussing alternatives to tobacco production.

Acting as a mouthpiece for the tobacco industry, ITGA (International Tobacco Growers Association) and its country chapters have spread misinformation and attempted to influence tobacco growers in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, India, South Africa , Zimbabwe , Malawi and Kenya as a strategy to slow down or block ratification and implementation of the FCTC. The Chief Executive of ITGA spoke on behalf of eight government and non-governmental organizations at the Public Hearing on Agricultural Diversification and Alternative Crops to Tobacco held in Brazil in February 2007, claiming to represent governments and farmers, while neglecting to reveal ITGA's connection to the tobacco transnationals.

Tobacco is the world's leading cause of preventable death—killing five million people per year. The generous commitment by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg marks a major change in the landscape for global tobacco control. Mayor Bloomberg's $125 million gift represents four times the 2006-2007 biennial budget of the World Health Organization's Tobacco-Free Initiative.

* Tobacco control advocates in priority countries should tap into this funding for their policy, media and monitoring initiatives. Both governments and NGOs can apply.

* All countries benefit when the cycle of dependence on tobacco is broken, and tobacco control policies have been shown to be good for the world's economies. The World Bank estimates that high-income countries spend up to 15% of their health care budget to treat tobacco-related illnesses. In 2002, China spent $3.5 billion on healthcare costs attributable to tobacco. If these costs were reduced just 20%, China could afford to hire more than half a million additional primary school teachers.

* Wealthy countries that have chartered, assisted and benefited from the international expansion of tobacco transnationals bear a responsibility to make transition away from tobacco-dependent economies viable. Political realities in the developing world also make assistance pragmatic, and could help speed up implementation of the treaty. Japan paid $87 million in 2006 to support WHO, more than any other nation. Yet Japan 's support of WHO represents only 10% of its share of Japan Tobacco's annual profits.

79% of the world's tobacco was sourced in developing nations in the late 1990s, up from 52% four decades earlier. However, countries that have most aggressively embraced tobacco production have not seen advances in their development. Only five of the 125 tobacco exporting nations derive more than 5% of their export income from tobacco. These five nations are concentrated at the bottom of UNDP's 2006 Human Development Index: Uganda (ranked 145 of 177 nations); Zimbabwe (which derives nearly a third of its export income from tobacco and ranks 151 of 177); United Republic of Tanzania (ranks 162 of 177); Malawi (which derives more than half of its export income from tobacco and ranks 166 of 177); and the Central African Republic (ranks 172 of 177). Far from being a path to prosperity, tobacco production paves the way to poverty.

Let's hope that these three concerns raised by the evidence-based report to be released by Corporate Accountability International ( http://www.stopcorporateabuse.org/ ) at COP-II in Thailand later this month, shall get due attention.

PUBLISHED IN:

Asian Tribune (Sri Lanka/ Thailand ): 21 June 2007
http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/6220

Independent News, New Zealand (The Scoop): 21 June 2007
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0706/S00294.htm

The Seoul Times, Republic of Korea (South Korea): 22 June 2007
http://www.theseoultimes.com/ST/db/read.php?idx=5445

The Yemen Times (Yemen ): 25 June 2007
http://yementimes.com/article.shtml?i=1062&p=health&a=3

Daily Monitor, Kampala, Uganda: 28 June 2007
http://www.monitor.co.ug/oped/oped06284.php

Central Chronicle, INDIA: 27 June 2007
http://www.centralchronicle.com/20070627/2706306.htm

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