Bangkok — While the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated public health to a top priority in every country in the world, it has left many poorly resourced governments receptive to any and all aid that can provide immediate assistance to help their people.
The pandemic pandemonium has provided unprecedented opportunities for the tobacco industry to boost its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to get closer to health and senior government officials.
Using charity to gain access to senior officials, foster good ties, and gain political capital to influence and interfere with public policies is a prominent tobacco industry tactic revealed in the 2020 Asian Tobacco Industry Interference Index.
Because of the deceptive and powerful influence of CSR activities exploited by the tobacco industry, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) calls on Parties to the treaty to denormalize these activities and even ban them. Nearly all Asian countries are parties to this treaty.
The Index is a civil society report card that ranks 18 Asian governments on their efforts to protect health policies from the influence and interference of commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in line with Article 5.3 guidelines of the FCTC.
Japan, Indonesia, and China top the report’s list with the highest level of tobacco industry meddling. These countries also have the largest smoking populations in the world. Brunei, Pakistan, and Nepal made the best progress to protect public policies from industry influence.…