Tobacco Control Capacity Programme

5.3 / Industry Interference

What are the principal barriers experienced by governments in protecting public health policy from tobacco industry interference, with specific reference to taxation and illicit trade?

In identifying a fundamental conflict of interest between public health and the tobacco industry, the FCTC is unique among international conventions in recognising scope for an industry to undermine its intent. FCTC Article 5.3 thus requires parties to protect the “setting and implementing” of public health policies “from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry”. This commitment is widely viewed as the centrepiece of the FCTC and of international tobacco control, yet very limited implementation means its promise as a means of promoting effective health governance has been viewed as “almost entirely unrealised”. Legislation or guidance to support effective implementation of Article 5.3 is currently being developed by the governments of India, The Gambia and South Africa, while industry interference has also been identified as a principal barrier to progress by Ghana and Uganda. In establishing good governance for health, protection against tobacco industry interference in health policy has the potential to promote both strong institutions (SDG 16) and policy coherence for sustainable development (SDG 17.14).

Article 5.3 is described as the backbone of the WHO FCTC yet is under-researched, particularly in LMIC contexts. Research on this theme seeks to address this gap; there are five research projects in four countries, which explore perceptions of Article 5.3 and the implementation of procedures and practices to limit industry interference in public policy. Teams conducting work in this area have been invited to support government departments with training of enforcement bodies and supporting government departments to respond to approaches and activities from industry actors.