American Think-Tank Tries to Intimidate SEATCA

23 May 2016

On April 21, SEATCA received a letter from Dr. Gary Johns, on behalf of his client, the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) which is based in Washington D.C., which is supported by over 100 corporations including the top four transnational tobacco companies.

The letter is riddled with false accusations against SEATCA, mischaracterizations of fact and law, disparaging comments about the World Health Organization, the Framework Convention Secretariat and the Parties to the FCTC. We have decided to publish an Open Letter in response.

Gary Johns’ letter makes several allegations including:

  • That SEATCA “inaccurately criticized the work of ITIC and mischaracterized its role” and that our critiques are “false statements” and “mischaracterizes ITIC’s work.”

>  Our response: The critiques of ITIC’s three reports are well-researched, detailed, and as accurate as possible. These were written in collaboration with much-respected professionals. On this note, we want to point out the sheer inaccuracy of your statement: “Of 180 Parties to the Convention only 16 are signatories to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco  Products.” Publicly available information shows that there are 54 signatories to the Protocol.  And there is no mischaracterization of ITIC’s role because represents the interests of the tobacco industry.


  • That SEATCA “refused to operate in an open manner” and “operates under the false protection of Article 5.3 of the Convention, which, among other things, seeks to ’improve the transparency and accountability of policy-making in the tobacco control process’.”


Ø  Our response: SEATCA does not engage with the tobacco industry and its representatives. SEATCA’s decision is soundly based on the principle that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests, a guiding principle fully recognized by the 180 States Parties to the FCTC. This principle is the basis for the state’s obligation to protect tobacco control policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry (FCTC’s Article 5.3).

And there are more allegations. Read SEATCA’s Open Letter for the various allegations and our response to them.

The ITIC says it is supported by more than 100 corporate sponsors, including PMI, BAT, JTI and Imperial Brands. It is simply unacceptable for this American think tank to try and intimidate an NGO based in a developing country.

SEATCA will not tolerate any more offensive statements. We will continue to expose tactics used by the tobacco industry and its representatives that tries to derail or undermine government efforts in the implementation of a public health treaty that aims to prevent deaths from a deadly product.

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