Don’t be fooled by Tobacco Industry’s Lie
Tobacco Control advocate believes that Transnational Tobacco industry is behind the effort to oppose the newly draft Tobacco Control bill to protect their business from tough measures. They also alert policy makers to scrupulously study the bill which has no article prohibiting tobacco farming as claimed by Deputy Minister of Finance in today news.
Tomorrow (Friday 14th), Ministry of Public Health will organize public hearings for central region on new TC bill after three previous hearings organized in the South, Northeast and the North. While there is a movement from tobacco farmers as well as tobacco industries strongly opposing the bill.
Prof. Dr. Prakit Vathesatogkit – Secretary General of Action on Smoking and Health Foundation and a well known tobacco control advocate express his anxiousness on such movement since he believes that it is transnational tobacco industry who highly benefit if this bill is rejected.
Prof. Dr. Prakit stated that there has been an effort to mislead content of this tobacco control bill by spreading false information that the bill will prohibit tobacco growing within 5 years which is totally not true. There is no article in this bill talking about tobacco growing. The ultimate purpose of this bill is to control marketing of tobacco products in order to protect children and youth from being addicted to smoking. Importantly, the content of this bill is mainly based on current Tobacco Control Act with some stronger measures; such as, increasing minimum age on sale to minor from 18 years to 20 years. Some new article has been added to be in line with The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – FCTC which Thailand and another 176 countries have ratified.
“I well understand that based on the instigation of tobacco industry, tobacco farmers worry that Thai people will totally quit smoking because of this bill. This is impossible because cigarette is highly addictive product. Although the current Tobacco Control Act has been in place for 20 years, the number of Thai smokers in 2011 remained at 13 million which is not so much different from 20 years ago or in 1991 that the number of smokers was about 12 million. Significantly, the number of annual cigarettes sale does not change during latest 20 years; that is at 2 billion packs per year. But due to population growth,the number of smokers does not change even the smoking prevalence declines. However, without any tobacco control policy, the number of current smokers in Thailand should have been about 17 million.” said Prof. Dr. Prakit
Currently Thai Tobacco Monopoly (TTM) market share has steadily decreased while transnational tobacco companies gains more and now close to 30% . Prof. Prakit said this is because of the price war as a result of AFTA’s agreement on 0% import tariff. If this proposed bill was killed or some articles were deleted, “I believe the transnational tobacco companies would be benefited from the weak law and TTM will loose more of their market share because transnational tobacco companies will be able to apply aggressive marketing strategies. Recently, Philip Morris Thailand has supported the setting up of Thai Tobacco Trade Association (TTTA) to be their lobbying front group, claiming that they represent cigarette retailers, to oppose some articles of the draft bill.”
I would like to make a plea to decision makers to thoroughly study the bill and do not fall into a trap of tobacco companies. Otherwise, the negative impact will not only occur on our children and youth, but also on the whole nation. Thailand will lose face in the international community for not complying with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which was ratified by the Thai government in 2004.
Incidentally, The Excise Department reported that in 2009/2010, there were 61,056 tobacco farmers in Thailand, the tobacco leaves production was 62,448,781kilograms, 64.8% of which was exported and 35.2% was bought by TTM.
For further information please contact: Professor Dr. Prakit Vethesatogkit, M.D.
Action on Smoking and Health Foundation Thailand Tel: 0-2278-1828 / 08-1822-9799