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Stretching the Timeline: Implementation Can Wait

Employing delay tactics is one of the most common methods used by the industry because they are more likely be accepted by a government. In order to do so, the industry has to generate justifications, even if these are half truths or outright lies. 

There are, however, problems in obtaining evidence for these activities because these are done by lobbying policy makers and sometimes through pressure groups such as retailer associations. 

In Indonesia, industry interference with policy formulation and implementation is known to have been conducted over the years, and thus it is suspected that the industry in Indonesia has been indirectly involved with the unreasonable objection to the inclusion of the tobacco control draft bill in the Parliament’s legislative agenda for the past three years despite the support of a significant number of parliamentarians. 

Similar strategies have also been used in Malaysia when a sports sponsorship ban supposed to be implemented in December 2005 (under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations (CTPR) 2004), was suddenly deferred to December 2006 without any public announcement or amendment to the legislation. Also, in spite of its earlier public announcement to implement a ban on the sale of kiddie packs (less than 20 sticks) in 2005, the Malaysian Health Ministry deferred it until 2010. The industry utilised the media and its allied group – tobacco farmers – to reinforce their arguments against the ban with claims that it threatens the livelihood of tobacco farmers.

In 2006, the Philippine Tobacco Institute and its members including PMPMI, BAT, and JTI requested a 4-month postponement/delay of implementation of the RA9211 deadline that required the industry to print 30% text warnings on the front of tobacco packages despite knowing about the deadline 3 years before.

Although anti-tobacco legislation in Thailand is tough, TTM and PM audaciously delayed picture pack warnings and the ban on the display of cigarette packs at the points-of-sale.

Another industry strategy was to include tobacco products in trade agreements which are designed to facilitate trade and remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to commercial transactions. In May 2006, US-based Essential Action implored the US to exclude tobacco products from a proposed U.S.-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement.