(23 Sept 2023, Bangkok)- The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance applauds Concordia’s decision to sever its ties to the tobacco industry by revoking the membership of Philip Morris International (PMI) and removing PMI’s CEO from the list of speakers at the Concordia Annual Summit 2023.
Concordia’s yearly global summit, a side event at the UN General Assembly, convenes heads of state and leaders from government, business, non-profit organizations, and philanthropic foundations to address pressing social issues. Despite the fact that tobacco kills more than eight million people yearly, majority of whom are poor people in low and middle-income countries, PMI had been involved in the summit since 2017, using this platform to elevate its image, rub shoulders with high profile individuals, and influence policymakers. In recent years, PMI has portrayed itself as a socially responsible company by promoting its newer electronic products as “less harmful” alternatives for smokers; however, it continues to manufacture and aggressively market and sell over 700 billion deadly cigarettes globally each year.
PMI uses corporate social responsibility (CSR) to whitewash its harmful business practices and tobacco’s devastating health, economic, and environmental harms. Between 2019 and 2021, PMI tripled its CSR funding for the ASEAN region, coursing money to NGOs in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. For example, PMI donated thermal scanners to the Philippine National Police during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tobacco industry claims its CSR programs are its way “to give back to society,” but its CSR spending is miniscule compared to its billions in profits from selling its deadly products.
Tobacco companies like PMI also claim to promote sustainable development, notwithstanding the fact that their business practices and products run contrary to all the SDGs, particularly SDG 1: End Poverty, SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being, and SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, among others.
Considering the global reach and impact of its summit, public health advocates have been urging Concordia to stop accepting sponsorship and participation of the tobacco industry. “SEATCA welcomes Concordia’s decision to end its relationship with PMI, acknowledging PMI for what it truly is: an obstacle to a healthy and sustainable world for all. Tobacco companies will exploit all opportunities to peddle their deception and forward their vested interests. Governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations the world over should stop sharing their platforms with the tobacco industry,” said Dr Ulysses Dorotheo, SEATCA Executive Director.
Val Bugnot, Media and Communications Manager, SEATCA
- Tobacco Charity Exposed: Review of the Tobacco Industry’s CSR Activities in the ASEAN
- Concordia Ends Relationship with Philip Morris International Following Response from Public Health Leaders
- Unsustainable: Big Tobacco’s Use of the UN SDGs
SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control 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.