ASEAN is moving at a snail’s pace in preventing tobacco industry interference

Manila, 27 November 2017: Tobacco industry interference remains to be an impediment in fully implementing effective tobacco control measures under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in the ASEAN Region.  

This is the main finding of the report Tobacco Industry Interference Index: ASEAN Report on Implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3 launched today by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) in Manila, Philippines.

The index, the fourth in the series, is a civil society report that tracks government action in protecting their health policies from interference from the tobacco industry. “Article 5.3 is the backbone of the Convention as it guides countries to protect their tobacco control policies from vested interests of the tobacco industry. The FCTC cannot be implemented effectively if industry interference is not rooted out. However Article 5.3 is the least effectively implemented Article. The solution lies in the hands of the governments,” said Dr. Mary Assunta, SEATCA’s Senior Policy Advisor and the author of the report.

“Big tobacco does not take a holiday when it comes to undermining health policy. A whole-of-government approach is vital for FCTC Article 5.3 implementation. Transparency in dealing with the industry is a major area that needs improvement. Governments need to record and document all meetings with the tobacco industry and their outcomes,” she added

Key findings of the report are as follows:

  • Brunei Darrusalam maintains its good record, and the Philippines still hold second position in the region but both countries have not advanced in strengthening their implementation of Article 5.3.
  • Vietnam has made marginal improvement but continues to show high levels of industry interference.
  • Malaysia and Myanmar have deteriorated and are showing greater industry interference.
  • Indonesia, a non-Party to the FCTC continues to languish at the bottom as tobacco industry interference worsens. However, the Ministry of Health has drawn up guidelines for industry interaction.
  • Countries that have unnecessary interaction with the tobacco industry continue to make themselves vulnerable to high levels of tobacco industry influence in policy development.
  • Tobacco-related CSR activities provide an avenue for government officials to participate directly in the industry’s activities. These tobacco related CSR activities must be banned.

Governments need to be proactive and vigorous in putting in place safeguards and measures to prevent unnecessary interactions with the tobacco industry, limit necessary ones, and set up disclosure procedures to protect public health policies.

“A practical way forward would be to adopt a Code of Conduct for government officials just like the Philippines’ Civil Service Commission and Department of Health Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2010-01 that builds a firewall around the bureaucracy,” added Dr Assunta. ##


Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Manager – SEATCA
Email: | Mobile: +63 999 881 2117 

Related Links:

  • Tobacco Industry Interference Index: ASEAN Report on Implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3



SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA
the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.


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