IndyACT sends a direct message to the global tobacco companies : "We still have our eyes on you"

IndyACT sends a direct message to the global tobacco companies : "We still have our eyes on you"
 
Beirut - June 30, 2010: Today, ten activists from the league of independent activists – IndyACT carried out a peaceful action in front of the offices of Philip Morris, the largest tobacco manufacturer in the world. The activists warned the company as well as other international tobacco companies from directly or indirectly interfering in the drafting of a new law on smoking control that is currently being discussed by the Lebanese Parliamentary commission for administration and justice.
 
The activists from IndyACT stood in front of the entrance to the offices of Philip Morris in Sodeco building, where they hanged a sign for the company that read: “Philip Morris: lobbying governments” in order to focus the attention of Lebanese citizens on the company’s history, which is full of negative influence on governments and laws on issues relating to smoking around the world. Activists also wore giant eyes and carried banners reading: “Tobacco companies, we are watching you” and “out of our parliament” to warn these international companies such as Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japanese Tobacco of attempting to weaken the law that is currently being discussed in the parliament.
 
Lebanon is bound to implement the “WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” which was ratified by the Parliament and the Cabinet in 2005. The Convention includes two clear paragraphs on the risk of interference from tobacco companies. In the preamble, the Convention recognizes “the need to be alert to any efforts by the tobacco industry to undermine or subvert tobacco control efforts and the need to be informed of activities of the tobacco industry that have a negative impact on tobacco control efforts”. The Convention further specifies in article 5.3 that “in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law”. This article even has detailed guidelines that have been submitted to the company during the event.
 
Last February, when IndyACT knew that representatives of the tobacco companies were participating in the parliament meetings to discuss the draft Law on Tobacco Control, the organization carried out a peaceful movement in front of the Lebanese parliament, demanding that the companies step out of the commission meetings and stop their attempts to weaken the law. After this action, tobacco companies stopped attending the commission meetings, but IndyACT has enough reason to believe that tobacco companies are still trying to influence the law in indirect ways. “During our meetings with several deputies to discuss the new tobacco law, we knew that tobacco companies have been contacting a number of MPs”, said Wael Hmaidan, Executive Director of IndyACT. “This act is suspicious and we consider it to be a breach of the principles of the International Convention on Tobacco Control”, added Hmaidan.
 
IndyACT carries out, in cooperation with the American University of Beirut and the “Tobacco Free Initiative” association, a campaign to pass a law that completely bans smoking in public places and fully meets the conditions of the Global Framework Convention. These three institutions have launched a petition on the subject at the beginning of June, which has been signed by more than one hundred societies, associations and foundations during the first week. “Deputies now face a crucial test. Will they support the views of experts, scientific and educational institutions and civil and international society by fully banning smoking in enclosed public spaces, or will they serve the interests of tobacco companies?”, concluded Hmaidan.
 
- End of press release -
 
For more information, please contact: 
Ali Fakhry, Communication Director
Phone - Fax: +961-1-447192
Mobile: +96171421593 
E-mail: comms@indyact.org
Photos from this event will be available on: http://indyact.blogspot.com

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Telephone: +961 1 447 192
Fax: +961 1 448 649
P.O.Box: 14-5472, Beirut, Lebanon