Report: Chamber fought anti-smoking laws in low-income countries

Report: Chamber fought anti-smoking laws in low-income countries
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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce targeted low- and middle-income countries in lobbying against anti-smoking regulations, according to a report health and safety groups unveiled Thursday.

The report,: “Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco,” from nine groups including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Public Citizen and Corporate Accountability International comes after The New York Times reported that the Chamber is lobbying alongside foreign affiliates to fight anti-smoking laws and advance the interests of the tobacco industry.

The report found that the Chamber has fought policies consistent with the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international public health treaty that has been ratified by 179 countries and the European Union.

The report said the Chamber fought laws related to smoke-free workplaces and public places, higher tobacco taxes, tobacco advertising bans, graphic health warnings and provisions governing tobacco packages in countries ranging from Burkina Faso to Ukraine.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce should not be using the influence of America’s business community to bully countries working to save lives with effective policies that are supported by science and law,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a news release. “The Chamber’s pro-tobacco activities harm health around the world and sully the name of American business.” 

The report recommends Congress enact the proven tobacco control measures required by the World Health Organization treaty, which the U.S. has yet to ratify, and recommends the Chamber publicly disclose its donors so that lawmakers and other government officials can be fully informed about their relationships with the tobacco industry.

The groups said they also want to see governments protect public health policies from tobacco industry interference and international trade and investment agreements protect the sovereign right of governments to adopt public health measures aimed at reducing tobacco use and its harms.

The Chamber could not immediately be reached for comment.