As tobacco advertisements, promotions, and sponsorships are being restricted or prohibited by governments in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the tobacco industry increasingly resorts to more insidious strategies to promote its products to consumers.
Tobacco companies conduct their so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to divert attention from the diseases and harms caused by their products, buy goodwill and publicity, influence policy development, and weaken or hinder the implementation of tobacco control policies.
This report zeroes in on the CSR activities of the tobacco industry across the ASEAN region and presents recommendations for governments to address these machinations and protect and uphold policies in place for tobacco control.
This report aims to expose the deceptive practice of the tobacco industry to push for voluntary codes in order to mislead, gain public and government acceptance, and avoid strict regulations.
The industry’s promotion of tobacco and nicotine products, under the guise of harm reduction, is a strategy to lobby against stringent regulations. It refers to these products as “reduced-risk” products and differentiates them from cigarettes and other tobacco products, which it brands as “high-risk” products. This is reminiscent of the industry rhetoric that light, mild, or low-tar cigarettes are “less harmful” than regular cigarettes.
The ASEAN market is flooded with electronic smoking devices (ESDs) such as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and heated tobacco products (HTPs). While the tobacco industry and nicotine industry aggressively promote ESDs as “less harmful” to recruit customers, these products are not safe and only worsen the tobacco epidemic.
This report from SEATCA features lessons from Singapore in successfully banning ESDs to prevent these products from being entrenched in the country. The government uses a multi-pronged approach, involving cooperation and coordination with relevant government agencies, to enforce the ban and address illegal entry of ESDs and related violations of the law.
The newly updated SEATCA Tobacco Packaging and Labelling Index examines the implementation of WHO FCTC Article 11 across 10 ASEAN countries and reports on progress and gaps as the region strives to implement stronger policies on tobacco packaging and labelling, including standardized packaging. Thailand, Singapore, and Myanmar champion standardized packaging in Asia and are among 24 countries worldwide that now require standardized packaging.