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The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) calls for the Turkish Government to revoke the appointment of Mr Riza Tuna Turagay – a Director of British American Tobacco until January 2019 – as Deputy Minister of Commerce by Presidential decree.

Dr Gan Quan, Director of Tobacco Control at The Union, said: “There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests. This recent appointment by Presidential decree comes as a huge disappointment and setback for Turkey.

“We urge the government to take immediate action to revoke this appointment in order to protect public health from the terrible influence of the tobacco industry.”

Turkey is a high-burden tobacco-use country. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report on the global tobacco epidemic in 2017, 16.8 percent of the youth population use tobacco and 30.9 percent of adults use smoking tobacco.

In response to this, the government has worked to strengthen the country’s capacity for tobacco control using a range of tools including taxes, bans on smoking in public places and extensive public education programmes. Turkey has been recognised by the WHO as an international leader in tobacco control and the government has been committed to tobacco control policies for more than a decade.

Turkey has been a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) since 2005, which stipulates in Article 5.3 that public health policies must be protected from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

In 2015, Turkey became the only country in the world to have accomplished all MPOWER measures for tobacco control at the highest level of achievement: M (Monitoring), P (SmokeFree Policies), O (Cessation Programmes), W (Warnings): Health Warnings and Mass Media, E (Advertising Bans), and R (Taxation).

The appointment of a tobacco industry executive to a governmental position is a violation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC and undermines the government’s duty to protect the country’s people from exposure to tobacco and tobacco smoke.

 

STOP released the following statement on 7 February:

February 7, 2019 (Geneva, Switzerland) Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP), a global tobacco industry watchdog, welcomes news that World Health Organization’s Executive Board (WHO EB) reaffirmed its position that it will not work with the Philip Morris International (PMI)-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW). STOP supports WHO’s call that governments and researchers should also reject overtures from FSFW.

Responding to statements from several countries and civil society organizations at the WHO EB session, Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus further reiterated WHO’s commitment to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first global health treaty, and the provisions that oblige countries to protect tobacco control policies from tobacco companies and invested third parties.

“We applaud WHO and the countries such as Australia, Netherlands, Panama and Singapore, for standing firm on the evidence-based principle to not collaborate with FSFW, an organization entirely funded by PMI,” said Anna Gilmore, professor of public health at the University of Bath and research lead for STOP. “We urge researchers and governments currently being approached by FSFW to also recognize that FSFW has no place, either in public health science or at the policy table.”

Prior to WHO’s decision, more than 279 organizations and individuals in 50 countries signed an open letter put forward by STOP, urging WHO to reject a publicly advertised approach from the PMI-funded FSFW. In line with this letter, STOP prepared a statement that was delivered by representatives from the World Heart Federation, on behalf of STOP and other public health groups, at the WHO EB meeting in Geneva. The statement reflected broader concern about tobacco industry interference expressed by other member states and others at this session.

About STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products)

STOP is a global tobacco industry watchdog whose mission is to expose tobacco industry strategies and tactics to undermine public health. STOP is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and comprised of a partnership between The Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, The Union’s Department of Tobacco Control and Vital Strategies.

Please contact our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information or to speak to a STOP spokesperson.

 

Nominations

Nominations are now open for the 2019 Union Awards for the following prizes:

The Union Young Investigator Prize

The Union Scientific Prize

The Karel Styblo Public Health Prize

The Stephen Lawn TB-HIV Research Leadership Prize

The Princess Chichibu Global Memorial TB Award

The Union Medal – for members only

Honorary Membership – for members only

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Anyone is welcome to nominate somebody, or several people, for the awards, with the exception of The Union Medal and Honorary Membership that can only be nominated by Union members.

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The following individuals cannot be nominated for an award:

- Employees or paid consultants who have worked for a Union affiliated office in the past year

- Board Members

- Members of the reviewing committee

- Past award winners

- Please note that individuals or organisations cannot nominate themselves.

- Non-Union members cannot be nominated for The Union Medal or Honorary Membership.

Make a nomination now by clicking here

Nominations are open until 31 March 2019.

Any queries should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the scientific prizes and to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for The Union Medal, Honorary Members and Princess Chichibu Award.

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Recently, the National Board of Revenue in Bangladesh has filed law suits against four chewing tobacco companies for tax evasion.

 

Leading tobacco control experts gathered in Bogotá, Colombia, to discuss tobacco taxation at an event organised by Union grantee, the Anáas Foundation, in partnership with Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano.

The event comes just ahead of important debates by Congress on tobacco taxes in the country.

Increasing tobacco taxes to ensure that tobacco products become increasingly unaffordable is a core policy to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In 2018, the taxes on tobacco products have increased in Colombia for the second consecutive year. The 200% tax increase accumulated over the past two years has contributed to the real price of cigarettes in Colombia increasing by 41 percent between December 2016 and October 2018.

To see this trend continue, experts want to see a further increase in tobacco tax for 2019 but in the initial proposal for a Public Finance Reform, being debated by Congress, a new rise was not mentioned.

Dr. Prabhat Jha, leading epidemiologist and health economist who spoke at the recent event said: “Global experience shows that tax increases are the most successful policy. In Colombia, for instance, increasing prices by 100 percent would save 300 thousand lives, because price increases triggered by tax hikes slow down purchases. The higher costs to consumers encourages smokers to quit and reduce treatment costs to the health care system.”

The Regional Director of The Union Latin America, Dr. Gustavo Sóñora said: “Raising tobacco taxes is a win-win-win policy because improve the public health, bring benefits to the public health and the public finances, decrease the health costs and increase the tax revenues”.

Blanca Llorente, Senior researcher at Anaas, also speaking at the event said: “The Colombian government should multiply by three the current excise tax. Tax revenues will continue their upward trend and may get closer to US$470 million per year. But most importantly, we would ensure that the current prevalence continues to drop and eventually reach 5 percent, reducing the financial burden to the health care system currently estimated at 0.6% of GDP.”

The participation of Dr. Prabhat Jha and Dr. Guillermo Paraje, two leading experts in the field, was possible thanks to the collaboration of the Global Tobacco Economics Consortium (GTEC) and the American Cancer Society.

The event was part of a Union grant for advancing and consolidating tax policy in Colombia, led by Blanca Llorente (Anáas Foundation) and Norman Maldonado (Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano), with funding from the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use (BI). The funding has also supported the development of the “Tax Monitoring Tool (IMPIT)”. This tool allows to keep a careful record of the results of tobacco tax policy, and is an example of the importance of building performance indicators to inform decision makers on the overall context of taxes.

 

In India, both research and action are happening in a drive to understand and control tobacco use.

A study presented during a tobacco control session at the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health,

 

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