Brazil responses to the strategies used by the tobacco industry to resist Tobacco Control National Policy
 
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National Cancer Institute/Ministry of Health, Executive Secretariat for implementation WHO FCTC, Brazil
Publication date: 2018-03-01
 
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A678
 
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ABSTRACT
Background and challenges to implementation:
According to the publication Tobacco industry interference with tobacco control (WHO, 2008), "The diversity of these strategies demonstrates that the mission to thwart tobacco control is global", and it is not different in Brazil. Since 1996, when Brazilian government started tobacco control policies, the tobacco industry have been enforcing and spreading their influence through the government and society.

Intervention or response:
Brazilian government ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005. Regarding article 5.3 "Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law". I order to attend this obligation, Brazilian government have been monitoring and working through the National Commission to Implement the WHO/FCTC (CONICQ) and protect the National Tobacco Control Policy. The civil society also plays an important role in partnering with CONICQ to protect the policy.

Results and lessons learnt:
Analyzing the 16 tobacco industry tactics for resisting effective tobacco control (table 1) described on WHO, 2008 publication, we identified the Brazilian responses to each one. We cannot say that we have been nulling the TI actions, or winning the battle, but we can say that we oppose them and make the process more transparent.

TacticBrazil responseTacticBrazil responseTacticBrazil responseTacticBrazil response
Intelligence gathering: Tobacco Industry representatives are constantly trying to attend tobacco control meetings.Government representatives for tobacco control make careful assessment of participants at all meetings and events.Consultancy: It´s easy to find this experts writing articles and as speakers in tobacco growers forums.Government and civil society representatives for tobacco control produce and disseminate scientific papers that strengthen the implementation of the National Tobacco Control Policy.Intimidation: They explore the fact that Brazil is the second largest tobacco producer in the world. Tax revenue from tobacco product sales reached 13 billion reais in 2015. More than 150.000 families are depending on tobacco growing.Government representatives for tobacco control conducted a research that showed that this 13 billion covers only 33% of the direct costs caused by smoking to the health system, which represents only 23% of the total expenditure attributable to smoking (56 billion/year). Brazilian government developed the National Program for Diversification in Areas of Tobacco Cultivation to support families that opt to invest in another plantation.Smuggling: TI uses the illicit trade to justify tax decreasing.Government and civil society representatives for tobacco control are working to ratify the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and protect our borders from illicit trade.
Public relations: Although promotion and advertising has been banned, TI uses social media to defend its product against increased taxes, for instance. Unfortunately, approved as an exception in the federal law, they use TV series and novels to explore the image of smoking characters.Government tobacco control officials monitor any violations of federal law that have banned advertising and publicity in the media. This exception in federal law indicates interference within government.Funding research, including universities: TI has some partner universities to produce studies in defense of tobacco cultivation and weaken the results obtained with the reduction of tobacco consumption, mainly in the regions of tobacco growers.Government and civil society representatives for tobacco control produce and disseminate scientific papers that strengthen the implementation of the national tobacco control policy. In tobacco producer regions, it has been important to warn about green tobacco sickness and reduce global consumption.Philanthropy: TI sponsors some museums entrance and art events, not showing their cigarette brands.They cannot sponsor sports, concerts or cultural events by federal law. This is an issue that demands new regulation.International treaties and other international instruments: Based on the WTO and MERCOSUL tax rules, it was not possible to tax tobacco leaves exported by Brazil.Regarding this issue, there is no action to be implemented in short term.
Political funding: Some congressmen and political groups have received official donations from Brazil´s tobacco industry in recent election campaigns.Official donation of corporate financial resources for election campaigns was banned for the upcoming elections. It´s is hard to control unofficial funding.Smokers' rights groups: There are groups of this nature and usually express themselves by the same interlocutors.Government and civil society representatives for tobacco control advocate for public health rights through campaigns and programs in schools.Corporate social responsibility: Souza Cruz, controlled by BAT group and market leader in Brazil, says that "sustainability is a company commitment. The company believes in the production of better and more solid economic results in the long term from the adoption of behaviors and socially responsible practices". This program seeks diversification with beans and corn, between tobacco crops season.The National Program for Diversification in Areas of Tobacco Cultivation is based on the principles of sustainable development, food security, diversification of production and social participation. The program operates in the qualification of the production and development process in the areas of tobacco farming, as well as from the perspective of ecological production, by reducing the use of pesticides.Joint manufacturing and licensing agreements and voluntary policy agreements with governments strategy: TI in Brazil is not a state monopoly.No action.
Lobbying: Tobacco lobbyists act at the congress defending the tobacco industry and barring tobacco control actions.Government representatives for tobacco control advocate at the congress in defense of the public health, and count on the partnership of civil society in the same direction.Creating alliances and front groups: These groups can be found in congress, in government areas and in forums against tobacco illicit trade.Government and civil society representatives for tobacco control work in the same fields to defend the public health rights.Youth smoking prevention and retailer education programmes: Souza Cruz publishes on his website: "Although there are several ways to quit smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapies, are known, Souza Cruz believes that the most important factors for effective behavior change are the personal will and self-confidence of each individual".The National Cancer Institute (INCA), as the Ministry of Health body, is responsible for coordination of the National Program for Tobacco Control, considering the complexity that involves addition and smoking cessation.Pre-emption: Brazil is a large country with 26 states and a Federal District that deal with local lobbying and government pressure.The incentive to raise VAT rates on cigarettes and increase tax revenue has been an opportunity in the States due to the economic crisis.
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Conclusions and key recommendations:
Tobacco industry is always evolving, sophisticated and looking to keep up with the government´s actions. But government and civil society representatives for tobacco control are also steadily struggling to contain the industry´s actions. This is a battle of unequal forces and there is still much to be done together.

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