ILO must end its partnership with Big Tobacco

Bangkok, 27 October 2017: The International Labor Organization (ILO) must act in accordance with the recommendations of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and end its partnership with the tobacco industry immediately. This is the decision the ILO must make when its Governing Body meets on 1 November 2017.

Under a current agreement running until the end of 2018, ILO is receiving more than US $ 15 million through its public-private partnership with Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and the Eliminating Child Labor in Tobacco Growing Foundation (ECLT). This practice stands in direct conflict with international standards, in particular Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

In June 2017, the UN ECOSOC adopted a resolution encouraging UN agencies to develop policies that would place a firewall between the UN and the tobacco industry. Last month, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) permanently banned the tobacco industry’s participation.

“It is high time the ILO dissociates itself from big tobacco whose products cause disease, death and disability globally. Big Tobacco’s collaboration with the ILO to address child labor is just a whitewash by the industry to boost its public image. These programs do little to curb child labor in tobacco fields because they do not improve the tobacco industry-driven cycle of poverty for tobacco farmers that forces children into the fields,” said Dr. Mary Assunta.

The Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), of which SEATCA is a member, echoes this fact in its statement that there is little evidence to suggest that the industry-funded initiatives have created any positive change in eliminating child labor. JTI and other tobacco companies continue to profit from paying low prices for tobacco produced through child labor. JTI is boosting profits in many countries that use child labor to produce tobacco. Reports have repeatedly claimed that ECLT’s work aims to keep farmers dependent on aid from the tobacco industry to avoid them from shifting to more sustainable livelihoods.

“This money is tainted. The ILO must end this tarnished cooperation with both the tobacco industry and its sponsored organization, the ECLT,” remarked Assunta.

SEATCA supports FCA’s letter addressed to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urging him to take action and remind the President and members of the ILO of the UN’s policy to prevent industry interference at all its levels of activity. FCA is also asking the Secretary General not to allow the tobacco industry to keep using UN agencies such as the ILO to promote its corporate image.

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

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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.