Request to Reject Tobacco Industry Invitations and Partnerships at UNGA

Request to Reject Tobacco Industry Invitations and Partnerships at UNGA

12 September 2019

António Guterres UNITED NATIONS
New York, NY

Dear Secretary-General Guterres,

I hope this finds you well.

I am writing to you as the Board Chair of STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products), a global initiative that seeks to halt the tobacco industry’s disruption of and interference in pro-health policies around the globe.

Today, we write to alert your office about the tobacco industry’s attempts to influence policy at the United Nations, including through various events linked to the UN General Assembly (UNGA). We respectfully urge you to request that UN officials and UN delegates reject any invitations to events or for partnerships with the tobacco industry. Meeting with industry representatives is contrary to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

One such invitation to the industry is anticipated from Concordia, which hosts, at the margins of UNGA, a high-profile side event on partnerships that features Philip Morris International (PMI) officials. Last year, the Director General of the World Health Organization had to pull out of the event at the last minute upon discovering the PMI sponsorship. Earlier this year, the PMI-sponsored Latin America Concordia event in Bogotá, Colombia featured former Spanish president José María Alfredo Aznar López who has been lobbying Latin American countries to promote IQOS, the tobacco company’s flagship tobacco device.

The efforts of the tobacco industry are pernicious and pervasive. Last year, pro-tobacco parliamentarians intervened at UN civil society hearings on noncommunicable diseases to advocate against tobacco taxes and assert that tobacco companies should be treated as partners in reducing smoking. We know from decades of deception that this is not their true intention…