December 25, 2022

Release: Tobacco giant ejected from Canadian COVID-19 vaccine collaboration

Civil society urges all governments to avoid future “partnerships” with Big Tobacco

This press release is also available in Spanish and French

Edmonton/Toronto/BostonCivil society organizations are hailing the expulsion of tobacco giant Philip Morris from Canada’s major government-backed COVID-19 vaccine collaboration, Medicago Inc. Majority owner Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma has removed Philip Morris as a secondary investor. The news follows the rejection of Medicago’s Covifenz vaccine by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March due to the corporation’s tobacco industry ties.

“Tobacco corporations, vaccines and governments don’t mix well and we applaud the expulsion of Philip Morris from the Medicago collaboration,” said Les Hagen, executive director of ASH Canada. “Tobacco industry products are responsible for over eight million deaths annually worldwide and tobacco corporations are desperately trying to whitewash their terrible public image by investing in the health sector. However, the control of one pandemic should not come at the expense of another. We are relieved that Canadian governments have washed their hands of this unethical and embarrassing collaboration with a tobacco giant.”

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)—a global public health treaty—prohibits tobacco industry collaborations among participating countries including Canada. The government of Canada has been openly defying this treaty requirement despite its formal public directive urging all countries to adopt strong guidelines to avoid tobacco industry interference. Canadian governments are currently suing the tobacco industry—including Philip Morris—for over US$400 billion for healthcare treatment costs resulting from tobacco industry negligence and deception as alleged in their court filings.

“Now that Philip Morris has been ejected from this collaboration, we urge Canadian governments to fully comply with the treaty by closing the barn door on any future tobacco industry partnerships,” said Daniel Dorado, Corporate Accountability’s tobacco campaign director. “The WHO FCTC is intended to shield governments from tobacco industry influence and collusion. We encourage all countries to meet their obligations under this important public health treaty to prevent any future industry manipulation and interference. Canada is viewed as a world leader in tobacco control. If Canada is vulnerable to tobacco industry interference, then so are many other countries.”

Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC is intended to protect participating countries from tobacco industry influence-peddling and this section is viewed as a cornerstone of the treaty. Tobacco industry interference has been identified as the single largest barrier to the implementation of the treaty.

Media Contact:

Les Hagen, MSM
ASH Canada
+1 780 919 5546
[email protected]

Renée Slajda
Corporate Accountability
+1 203 231 7285
[email protected]

Nick Guroff
Corporate Accountability
+1 617 784 4753
[email protected]

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