The World Health Organisation (WHO) just started a campaign called "Stop the Lies" to protect young people from harmful tobacco products and stop the tobacco industry from messing with health rules.
This is supported by new evidence from "The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2023," a report by STOP and the Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control that shows that many countries are finding it hard to stop the tobacco industry from interfering with health policies.
According to the report, taking a positive stride towards safeguarding public health policies, four nations have shown commendable progress in shielding their regulations from undue influence by the tobacco industry, with Botswana setting an example.
Noting that Botswana has taken a significant step by incorporating recommendations from Article 5.3 Guidelines into its Tobacco Control Act in 2021, thereby enhancing the country's ability to resist interference and prioritise public health over industry interests,
Similarly, some countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, and Côte d'Ivoire, have proved their seriousness to health policy by drafting legislative decrees to protect them against industry meddling.
The report stated that drafts of legislation are currently awaiting clearance, indicating a firm stance against potential tobacco industry deception.
However, the report noted that the tobacco industry continues to target finance, commerce, and investment departments, using tactics like exaggerating economic contributions and spreading narratives that tax increases will worsen the illicit tobacco trade. The global landscape shows mixed progress, with 29 countries improving, 43 deteriorating, and eight index scores unchanged.
What is worrying is that some governments accept CSR handouts from tobacco companies despite the industry's track record, the report noted.
The purpose of the WHO campaign is to strengthen the voices of young people, demonstrate how the tobacco business deceives people, and make everyone aware of why it is critical to maintain health rules for the future.
Young groups from across the world are asking countries to make decisions that keep them safe from the tricky practices of the tobacco industry.
Dr. Ruediger Krech, WHO's Director of Health Promotion, says the organisation supports young people globally. He wants governments to protect young people from an industry that sells harmful things and lies about how they affect health. In a statement, Dr Krech asked all countries to keep health policies safe and not let the tobacco industry control the rules.
The tobacco industry tries to interfere with countries' right to protect people's health by taking governments to court or giving them money and other things to influence tobacco control rules. Even at big conferences like the upcoming WHO FCTC Conference of Parties, the tobacco industry tries to have a say. WHO said that it supports countries that defend good tobacco control measures against the tricks of the industry.
Even though the tobacco industry used to say smoking doesn't cause cancer, it has now been established beyond reasonable doubt that it causes 25% of all cancers and kills over 8 million people every year. But the industry keeps selling things they call 'new' and ' safer' even though they are still harmful and making trillions of cigarettes every year.
Because many tobacco users die early, the tobacco industry needs to get new, young users. They use different tricks to get young people interested, like making menthol-flavoured cigarettes and e-cigarettes that taste like candy and look cool.
The tobacco industry spends a lot of money to stop rules against tobacco and nicotine products and supports groups that agree with them.
These tricks from the tobacco industry are detrimental for public health. They also cause problems for the environment, mental health, and child labour. The "Stop the Lies" campaign shows how important it is to stop these bad influences on public health and society.