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Tobacco companies are accused of taking advantage of the pandemic to influence governments

Acusan a tabaqueras de aprovechar la pandemia para influir en gobiernos

The tobacco industry used the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to gain influence in the governments of 80 countries, which were vulnerable to lobbying and charitable donations from those companies, according to a report published Tuesday by the watchdog group. STOP.

STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products) is an alliance funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies in which several international entities collaborate, including the Research Group on Tobacco Control at the University of Bath and the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control. Tobacco.

The organization today published a "global tobacco industry interference index" in which it is concluded that no country analyzed has been immune to such interference and the most affected have been the Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Japan, Indonesia and Georgia, according to data provided by civil society groups.

The Dominican Republic, Switzerland and Indonesia, along with Argentina and the United States, do not belong to the Framework Convention of the World Health Organization for Tobacco Control (FCTC) and for that reason they have suffered "a high degree of interference" of the tobacco companies, argues the report.

"The behavior of the tobacco industry during COVID-19 was not standard business practice; this research suggests that it has been much worse in scale and impact"said lead author of the index and expert in this field Mary Assunta.

The report notes that several governments have "they let themselves be convinced by the double talk" multinationals such as Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco to approve their new tobacco products on the pretext that they served to move away from cigarettes.

On the other hand, it warns that the acceptance of charitable aid offered by tobacco companies tends to "include conditions" and "Instead of eliminating measures that favor the industry, several governments made decisions that benefited it", such as reducing or withdrawing levies, or delaying legislation.

It is also highlighted that the use made by the tobacco industry of corporate social responsibility (CSR) donations aimed at responding to the pandemic is in direct contrast to the importance of quitting tobacco use, as it is a risk factor in the development of covid -19.

Assunta pointed out that, despite the ravages of the pandemic in the global economy, Two of the largest tobacco companies reported billions of dollars in profit increases, which is why he urged governments to avoid meddling in their policies and to prohibit CSR activities related to tobacco.

Globally, the countries best prepared to deal with tobacco sector interference were Brunei, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, while others such as Botswana, Spain, Chile and India "intensified their efforts to protect health policy".

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