Taking action on smoking and health
ASH Scotland is deeply concerned that the tobacco industry has targeted Scotland’s councils with a legal warning that tries to undermine a landmark international public health treaty on its 10th anniversary.
The health charity has discovered that the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, which represents three major cigarette companies, has written to the chief executives of Scotland’s local authorities about the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which limits Big Tobacco’s opportunity to undermine public health measures.
The letter from the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association’s Director General Giles Roca includes a recent opinion from their legal counsel and tells councils the FCTC does not “in any way recommend or require local authorities to sever links with the tobacco industry or to cease partnership working.”
However, ASH Scotland fears the move is an effort to undermine the FCTC, the world’s first public health treaty, which came into force on 27 February 2005 and is now signed up to by 179 countries and the European Union. Its aim is to fight the devastating harm caused by smoking and to keep tobacco industry influence out of health policies.
See video and or listen to audio of ASH Scotland Chief Executive Sheila Duffy commenting on this issue
ASH Scotland Chief Executive Sheila Duffy said:
“I’m very concerned that this letter has been sent to chief executives of local authorities to instruct them that they shouldn’t be concerned about working with the tobacco industry, following legal opinion paid for by the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association.
“We will be writing to councils to make our views known to them.
“The reality is that the FCTC allows a certain amount of engagement with tobacco companies to discuss the impact of restrictions and legislation, to ensure compliance and to receive intelligence from them on issues such as counterfeit tobacco.
“But I believe this letter shows the tobacco industry is trying to get a foot in the door and go a lot further than that. It is trying to influence and misinform and its ultimate aim is to maintain profits by trying to undermine and destroy health measures. We cannot allow that to happen.
“Scotland deserves praise for the action we have taken over the last 10 years to support the important aims of the FCTC.
“We have introduced the successful smoke-free public places legislation, ensured people have to be 18 before they can buy tobacco, got rid of tobacco vending machines and, after fending off legal action by Big Tobacco, ended promotional cigarette displays in shops.
“Scotland has stood strong in the fight against the harm caused by tobacco use and is committed to achieving a generation free from tobacco in 20 years’ time. Councils should not be intimidated by this latest move by the tobacco industry, which is typical of the bullying and slanted approach we have come to expect from them.
“I’m calling for a ‘health warning’ on the misleading claims of tobacco companies, who are waging a well-funded war on health measures they fear will cut the huge profits they make from selling a product that kills half of its long-term users.”
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.