Out-shout the tobacco industry

8 January 2017:

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Margaret Chan, in her address at the recent seventh session of the COP called upon civil society groups to “out-shout the tobacco industry in getting the real facts and evidence to parliamentarians and the public.”

Below are some call-outs on recent industry related statements. We provide the real facts and hope this can out-shout the industry’s misinformation and distractive tactics.

1.     Smoking: Disease Vs enjoyment

According to a UK based tobacco industry front group’s survey, “People smoke for enjoyment”.

Fact: Tobacco use causes 6 million deaths a year worldwide, and many millions suffer from a range of tobacco related diseases. Smoking is listed in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), officially adopted by WHO. ICD-10 have diagnosis codes for tobacco use under ‘Mental, Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Disorders’ i.e. ‘Mental and behavioral disorder due to psychoactive substance use, codes F10 – F19.

2.     Indonesian tobacco industry wants to enjoy VAT discount.

The tobacco industry in Indonesia (GAPRINDO) is grumbling that VAT (value added tax) on cigarettes is 9.1% starting 1 January 2017, increased from 8.7%. The industry is claiming the VAT rate increase will burden consumers because cigarette industry will have to charge the consumer more.

Fact: While all consumer products pay 10% VAT in Indonesia, cigarettes have been enjoying a discount by paying a lesser VAT for many years. Previously the VAT for cigarettes was only 8.4%, before it was increased slightly to 8.7%. At the very least, cigarettes should pay 10% VAT like all other products, as more expensive cigarettes help discourage children and the poor from smoking.

3.     Tax-free tobacco export to enrich leaf merchants Vs helping growers

The Ministry of Commerce Cambodia is encouraging unmanufactured-tobacco dealers to apply for licenses to export their tobacco to Vietnam. In a bilateral deal, Vietnam will waive all duties on annual imports of 3,000 tons of unmanufactured tobacco from Cambodia. According to Cambodian officials, “The market for tobacco is not good,” and with this move “tobacco farmers can survive.”

Fact: Savings that merchants and exporters make by not paying export duties will not be passed on to tobacco growers. The growers earn the least and remain poor. The FCTC requires Parties to remove incentives to tobacco business and assist growers shift to other forms of livelihood. However Cambodia and Vietnam are moving in the opposite direction.

Philippines out-shouts the industry

Philippines Civil Service Commission (CSC) is out-shouting the tobacco industry: Last month, the CSC issued MC 29, s. 2016 on December 22, 2016 (Prohibition on Solicitation and Acceptance of Gifts) which is a memorandum circular to protect the bureaucracy from courtesy calls and gifts from the tobacco industry (see attached). This MC was circulated to all agencies for information and compliance.

For further information on the CSC’s main 2010 Joint Memorandum Circular: http://www.tobaccocontrollaws.org/files/live/Philippines/Philippines%20-%20JMC%202010-01%20-%20national.pdf