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July 18, 2017

Reuters’ Report Highlights The Tobacco Industry’s Disdain For Laws That Protect Health

(New York, USA) – Vital Strategies today commended Reuters on an investigative exposé that reveals fresh, concrete evidence from internal tobacco industry documents that Philip Morris and other players in the tobacco industry are intentionally contravening India’s tobacco control laws and encouraging others to break the law, in order to addict a new generation of smokers. This includes the use of prohibited advertising and giving away free cigarettes to young people attending special events.

José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vital Strategies commented:

“This report provides further evidence of the tobacco industry’s continued efforts to derail tobacco control regulations in every country. It follows the Reuters story last week on Philip Morris’ activities to subvert progress on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and The Guardian’s reporting, exposing the tobacco industry’s insidious practices across a number of countries in Africa and the USA.

“Each of these reports share common themes. First, there is a huge gap between what the industry says in public to try to appear reasonable, and what the industry actually does. Secondly, the industry replicates unethical, successful tactics from state to state and country to country. The same tactics exposed in the USA in the 1990s are now being implemented in India in the 2010s to try to attract young people to smoking. And third, it shows utter disdain for health policy; in India, paying vendors to display illegal advertising signs, organizing events where free cigarettes are illegally distributed, and challenging the implementation of graphic health warnings covering 85 percent of tobacco packaging, in spite of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“Each piece of evidence confirms what tobacco control advocates have long known – the tobacco industry is not a responsible actor. It does not respect governments, nor the rights of governments to protect the health of their citizens, if that interferes with tobacco sales. Governments wishing to protect the health of their citizens and meet their targets under the Sustainable Development Goals, need to honor Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and prevent the tobacco industry from poisoning efforts to protect health. Reuters and The Guardian are exposing the real face of the tobacco industry. We’re sure there are many more stories to tell and hope that those stories are told. Right now, governments and civil society need to redouble their work to counter the tobacco industry’s tactics and combat the global tobacco epidemic.”

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health and tobacco control expert, please contact Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies, at +44.7889.081.170 or tjohnston@vitalstrategies.org

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