May 21, 2016
Health groups warn: Upcoming Jakarta tax forum backed by the tobacco industry Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), HealthJustice Philippines (HJ) and New Vois Association Philippines (NVAP) alerted the public today of the ties that bind the tobacco industry and the International Tax and Investment Centre (ITIC), which is behind the 13th Annual Asia-Pacific Tax Forum on May 23, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“ITIC gets funds from four of the world’s biggest tobacco companies. That fact alone raises a red flag. The event could be used as a venue to discredit health and tobacco control policies like the sin tax law and give policymakers the false impression that these are ineffective,” said Atty. Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HJ.
The ITIC also organised the 12th Asia-Pacific Tax Forum in May 2015 in New Delhi, India. It was participated in by key officials from numerous countries, including Indonesia, Singapore, France, Bhutan, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, United States, United Kingdom, Pakistan.
“Last year, we revealed that ITIC actually receives monetary support from the British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Ltd., JTI Group, and Philip Morris International. The same group is about to hold a similar event, which could be used as a conduit for the tobacco industry’s commercial interests,” cautioned Emer Rojas, President of NVAP.
“We must be on guard against manipulative tactics of the tobacco industry to sabotage implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), particularly relating to tobacco taxation. The gains of the sin tax to safeguard public health must be protected,” Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, SEATCA’s FCTC Program Director, said.
Reyes added that the tobacco industry invests huge sums of money to derail, weaken, and delay the implementation of tobacco control laws and intimidate governments and health organisations to give in to their demands. The World Health Organization, in its website, attests that “The tobacco industry has historically employed a multitude of tactics to shape and influence tobacco control policy. The tobacco industry has used its economic power, lobbying and marketing machinery, and manipulation of the media to discredit scientific research and influence governments in order to propagate the sale and distribution of its deadly product.”