Brazil's COP4 Delegation disagrees with the conclusions of the research paper "Tobacco industry's fight ITGA FCTC Implementation in the Uruguay negotiations"
The author seeks to analyze the interference of the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) in the decisions of the 4th Conference of the Parties (COP 4) on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) regarding Guidelines recommending the prohibition of additives in cigarettes and includes Brazil as one of the countries influenced by this organization. As members of the Brazilian delegation to COP4, we are deeply concerned with the conclusions drawn by the author, that were based mainly on the size and composition of the delegation as an indicator of the possible interference of ITGA. We are aware that the Association of Brazilian Tobacco Growers (AFUBRA), a member of ITGA, pressed government officials and legislators to work against the approval of the Guidelines and related recommendations. Their arguments were recently published in the Journal in the News Analysis session(a). However this misinformation was challenged publicly ( b) and their pressure has not influenced Brazil's government position as can be demonstrated in the records of COP4 plenary discussions and confirmed by a recent regulation that positioned Brazil as the first country in the world to adopt a total ban on cigarette additives. In Brazil, a National Inter Ministerial Commission for the Implementation of the WHO FCTC (CONICQ), created by Presidential Decree, has proven to be very successful in the implementation of an inter sectorial agenda for tobacco control, aligning all sectors of the government with the FCTC objectives and neutralizing the tobacco industry interference on tobacco control policies. Currently, eighteen different sectors of the government are part of CONICQ and most of its representatives attended COP4 due to the priority assigned to the theme and the opportunity the proximity of Uruguay has provided for Brazil's delegates' participation. As a major tobacco producer, apart from implementing the core FCTC provisions, Brazil has the additional duty to safeguard 180,000 tobacco growers and their families from sanitary, social and economic vulnerabilities related to this activity in view of FCTC Articles 17 and 18. For this reason the Ministry of Agrarian Development and the Ministry of Agriculture are part of CONICQ and Brazil has joined the article 17 and 18 FCTC Working Group as a key facilitator Party. However, the author highlighted the number of representatives of the Brazilian delegation as suspiciously higher than usual and drew attention to the fact that it had six representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, a sector of the government claimed by the author to be an ally of the tobacco industry. Apart from not being true (the delegation had only one representative from this Ministry of Agriculture, the other five being representatives from the Ministry of Agrarian Development, which is responsible for the National Program for Diversification in Tobacco Cultivated Areas), this statement raises an unfair suspicion of conflict of interests and violation of Article 5.3 by the country, a theme that has been treated with utmost importance by CONICQ, which has recently published ethical guidelines for its membership. The author also stated that the majority of tobacco producers grow other agricultural products. This is not the reality in Brazil where most tobacco growers do not rely on other agricultural products for income generation. They are fully dependent on the tobacco supply chain articulated by major transnational tobacco companies that attract them through the deceptive calls that growing tobacco generates wealth and prosperity. What they actually find is an endless cycle of debt, economic dependency and health risks inherent to this activity. In this context they do need support to shift to other livelihoods. Thereby, FCTC articles 17 and 18 deserves special attention from FCTC Member States as they represent not only an important tool for rescuing tobacco growers from this risky economic dependence but a way to reduce the power of tobacco companies to interfere with the FCTC implementation. Finally, it's worth noting that even considering its status as a major tobacco producer and exporter, Brazil is a country that has proven to be capable to reduce smoking prevalence by 50% in the last 20 years by implementing sound tobacco control measures. We would appreciate if this letter is published in order to correct erroneous and unacceptable conclusions mentioned in the article that reflect on the credibility of Brazil's delegation.
On behalf of the Brazilian delegation that attended COP4
Dr Tania Maria Cavalcante Coordinator of the Executive Secretariat of the National Commission for the Implementation of the FCTC (CONICQ)/ National Cancer Institute/ Ministry of Health/Brazil
Mrs Adriana Gregolin Coordinator, National Program for Diversification in Tobacco Cultivated Areas /Family Farming Secretariat / Ministry of Agricultural Development/Brazil
Prof Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva Coordinator, Center for Studies on Tobacco Control Policies, National Public Health School, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Ministry of Health/Brazil
(a) News analysis - Brazil: industry fury at new proposals September 2011 Volume 20 Issue 5. Available at http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/20/5/323.full
(b) Aditivos em cigarros / Instituto Nacional de Cancer Jose Alencar Gomes da Silva, Comissao Nacional para a Implementacao da Convencao-Quadro para o Controle do Tabaco e de seus Protocolos. -- Rio de Janeiro : Inca, 2011. Available at http://bvsms.saude.gov.br/bvs/publicacoes/aditivos_cigarros_notas_tecnicas.pdf
Conflict of Interest: