October 31, 2019

STATEMENT: ILO Shows Big Tobacco the Door

“Today, parties to the ILO Governing Body reached a decision that could permanently end its financial ties to the tobacco industry. The ILO is now aligned with the UN Global Compact and other U.N. agencies that have firewalled themselves from the tobacco industry. 

This decision closes the tobacco industry’s last avenue of influence in the U.N. system and brings the ILO in line with the World Health Organization’s Global Tobacco Treaty. We welcome the decision and look forward to the implementation of the strategy that will ensure the ILO continues the anti-child labor program with tobacco money finally out for good. Any future projects that allow tobacco industry involvement are subject to interference, influence, and undermining from the industry which continues to employ these tactics as a way to forgo any accountability. 

Big Tobacco has used partnerships for decades to earn goodwill and escape culpability. The tobacco industry partnered with Interpol to combat illicit trade while at the same time being complicit in illicit trade. It attempts to gain access to public-health policymaking, while selling deadly products. It would be naive to assume this deadly industry funded the ILO without an ulterior motive. The tobacco industry has long benefited from partnerships like this one in order to distract from its role in driving the global tobacco epidemic and the human rights issues in its supply chain. This industry has shown time and again that voluntary programs will not be enough to rein in its abuses. Governments must hold Big Tobacco accountable for its dangerous and deadly business practices including its treatment of workers.

In order for the ILO to protect and advance its work, the devil will be in the details of the implementation of this strategy. The ILO must continue to recognize the tobacco industry for what it is: a deadly industry that blocks, weakens , and delays any policy that affects its bottom line. Now, the ILO needs to enact safeguards that explicitly reject the industry’s funding and shut out Big Tobacco’s influence for good like those seen in Article 5.3 of the Global Tobacco Treaty.”

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