ASH leads ‘Week of Action’ against tobacco industry exploitation

26 April 2017

Today, the day of the BAT AGM, marks the start of ASH’s Week of Action against the exploitation and damage caused by the tobacco industry. Youth groups, charities and international organisations are joining a social media protest to highlight how the tobacco industry is undermining international tobacco control.

Tobacco harms every type of development, with 80% of smokers living in Low and Middle Income Countries, [1] where tobacco growing is concentrated leading to deforestation [2] and the use of child labour in the production process which damages health and undermines education. [3]

This has to change and the UK government is doing its bit to ensure that it does. Our government is investing £15 million into a programme called “FCTC 2030” to support implementation of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. [4] Fifteen countries will receive tailored support to implement policies such as higher taxes and smokefree public places and work spaces which will protect individuals from the harm of tobacco and promote sustainable development within these countries. [5]

This campaign highlights the positive work being undertaken to stop tobacco manufacturers’ exploitation of poor and disadvantaged people round the world, but emphasises that more needs to be done to reduce the harm caused by tobacco.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“This Week of Action will highlight the abuses of the tobacco industry and how they work tirelessly to undermine development and keep people hooked on a product that kills half of all lifetime users. The UK is a world leader in tobacco control and we are delighted that our government is also in the forefront of work to support other countries in implementing effective measures to drive down smoking prevalence.”

The week of action starts with the British American Tobacco (BAT) AGM on 26th April and ends with the Philip Morris International (PMI) General Meeting of Shareholders on Wednesday 3rd May.

1. Tobacco Factsheet, World Health Organization, June 2016.
2. Tobacco’s hidden children, Human Rights Watch, 2014.
3. Tobacco control and tobacco farming, International Development Resource Centre, 2014.
4. Tobacco and Development: A new era for the FCTC, Framework Convention Alliance, 2016.
5. FCTC 2030, World Health Organization, 2016