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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2038

Brazil launches first regional tobacco industry observatory

By Manjari Peiris

Brazil which has long been a leader in tobacco control, this month launched the first of five planned regional centres that will collect and share information about tobacco industry strategies to undermine tobacco control.

Known as an online observatory, the centre is a partnership of the Government of Brazil and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), a member of Framework Convention Alliance (FCA). It features an online database that will be available to governments, civil society stakeholders, academic researchers and the public.

The observatory was developed and will be managed by the Centre for Studies on Tobacco and Health (CETAB) at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, known as Fiocruz, a renowned health research agency linked to Brazil's Ministry of Health.

“The observatory will collect and analyze documents and virtual data (scientific publications, government and NGO reports, etc.) on tobacco industry strategies in Brazil and the region,” said Cristiane Vianna, The Union’s technical advisor for tobacco control in Brazil. “It will also produce and disseminate information to government officials, legislators and decision makers in general.”

The project to create industry monitoring centers in the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), was initiated by the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) following the sixth meeting of the FCTC Conference of the Parties. The Conference of Parties (COP) 6 adopted a decision to further promote the implementation of FCTC Article 5.3, especially in relation to industry efforts to undermine tobacco control efforts internationally.

The BRICS countries that are home to more than 40 percent of the world population have made important advances in implementation of WHO-FCTC, to which all of them are Parties. On the other hand, the tobacco industry is present in all of them, and makes efforts to influence decision making. This fact underpins the need to strengthen implementation of Article 5.3 of the Convention, and the establishment of tobacco industry monitoring centers will certainly contribute to this aim.

In 2012 Brazil became the first country to ban all flavours and additives in tobacco products. However the tobacco industry challenged that measure and it was suspended by the Supreme Court in 2013.

“The launch is not necessarily linked with the court challenge to the additives ban,” said Cristiane. “However, the observatory should be of use in that case as well.”

Another BRICS observatory is being set up now in South Africa, while Sri Lanka has taken the initiative to create one also, according to the FCTC Secretariat’s website.

The establishment of the tobacco industry monitoring centers or observations will address the lack of discerning understanding of current and future approaches of the tobacco industry, the way it attempts to or interferes with public health policy development, and shall inform governments and policy makers with a view to prevent such interference.

Source of information: Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) www.frameoworkconventionalliance.org

- Asian Tribune -

Brazil launches first regional tobacco industry observatory
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