Tobacco control law written by JTI: a case study of flagrant industry interference in Kyrgyzstan
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Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, United States of America
Smoke-Free Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyz Republic
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Russian Federation
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A98
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Background and challenges to implementation:
In 2017, all but one of 116 parliamentarians voted to introduce amendments to weaken the tobacco control law in Kyrgyzstan, including mandating smoking areas and other measures contrary to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which Kyrgyzstan has ratified. The law appears to have been drafted by Japan Tobacco International (JTI), as evidenced by metadata that lists JTI as the author of the file containing the official law on the Kyrgyz parliamentary website (see Figure 1 below). The parliamentarian who introduced the bill had been working with JTI since 2012 as part of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project for the Kyrgyz Society for the Blind and Deaf. An internal source informed us that JTI offered compensation to the Kyrgyz media not to report this incident.

Intervention or response:
Legal and advocacy tactics are being employed to repeal and replace the law with FCTC compliant measures including a comprehensive smoke-free law, to educate government officials about the implications of tobacco industry dealings, and to engage the global public health community to help expose the industry and advocate for the enactment of FCTC Article 5.3 measures in the region.

Results and lessons learnt:
Despite such overt JTI interference with the policy-making process in Kyrgyzstan, our analysis found no viable domestic or international legal avenues to address this conduct. Although there are international agreements on bribery and corruption, few apply or can be enforced under these circumstances, resulting in a significant and concerning regulatory gap.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
We expect that neither these findings nor this conduct are particular to the region, and therefore significant law reform is required. This includes: implementation of Article 5.3 measures, particularly in vulnerable countries; enactment and enforcement of laws on bribery, corruption and lobbying transparency in countries where the tobacco industry is headquartered; and expanding and strengthening international agreements to hold industry and governments accountable.

[Figure 1]

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