As part of the global tobacco industry watchdog STOP, whose partners include the University of Bath, the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, The Union, and Vital Strategies, along with Corporate Europe Observatory, the European Public Health Alliance has contributed to a joint response to the European Commission’s review of the EU’s trade and investment policy.
Throughout the COVID-19 emergency, tobacco industries have fostered their corporate social responsibility activities (CSR) to protect their profits and undermine tobacco control measures. Therefore the current European Commission’s review provide the opportunity to address and close gaps related to the Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which obliges the EU to protect public health policies from the harmful influence of the tobacco industry.
However STOP is concerned that the EU has yet to demonstrate leadership in providing best practices on transparency and accountability in relation to tobacco control. Evidence shows that only the Director General (DG) responsible for Health and Food Safety (SANTE) has adopted a proactive transparency policy in line with the WHO FCTC Art. 5.3.
Leaving open door policy for tobacco industry lobbyists to engage with EU policymakers delays and weakens the EU’s ability to attain several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other global public health objectives. With the renewal of its trade policy, the European Commission must ensure the implementation of WHO FCTC Art 5.3 to protect the health of its people. It must:
- avoid interaction with tobacco industries and lobbyists;
- apply governance rules across the whole EU;
- do not give tobacco industries incentives to run its business and strengthen digital trade policies and enforcement;
- denormalize CSR of the tobacco industry;
- ensure the commitment to SDGs and EU’s health and environmental policies (EU4Health Programme, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and the EU Green Deal).