The tobacco lobby is steadily losing ground on the international market and political stage. The ILO (International Labour Organisation), last of the United Nations organisation to have ties to the tobacco industry, has just announced they would no longer be accepting funding from tobacco industry players.
This announcement came in response to a request by over 150 organisations across a range of countries a few weeks ago. These health organisations had expressed their reservations in a letter addressed to the ILO administration, stating that the agency’s “reputation was being tarnished, and their efforts limited,” by accepting funding from cigarette manufacturers.
Faced with such backlash, the organisation was quick to respond. In a communication published from the Geneva headquarters, the ILO declared that they would no longer be accepting “new financing from tobacco industry players”. They also committed to cease any and all “private and public partnerships with tobacco industry players”.
The UN cuts off all ties with the tobacco industry
This decision marks a turning point, the termination of the last official connection between the tobacco industry and United Nations bodies. In June, a resolution was passed in the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) that aimed to “prevent interference from the tobacco industry” within UN-affiliated organisations. The ILO was the last UN agency to be funded by tobacco manufacturers.
This is significant change in ILO policy. The agency has in the past received up to 15 million dollars in funding from Japan Tobacco International and other manufacturers as part of “mutually beneficial partnerships”.
This announcement by the ILO represents a significant hit to the tobacco lobby industry. The fight to eradicate smoking is now more than ever a global cause. This news is a real sign of progress, but there is still a lot left to do.