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Archive for September, 2013

China’s investment in Africa: consequences for tobacco control?

23 Sep, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

 

 

Sue Lawrence, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Recently, China’s economic growth recently may have fallen below its expected 6% rate, but it is more of dip than an indication of decline. Its pursuit of new markets is likely to continue undeterred (1) and this may have spillover effects for tobacco control.

China’s outward investment ‘going-out’ policy (also known as the ‘go global’ strategy) fulfills its quest for raw resources such as oil, gas, metal ores, copper, iron and steel. The policy has naturally led it to Africa, rich in raw resources and hungry for investors. Foreign direct investment in Africa is growing; in 2005 inflows totalled 31 billion USD (2). Trade between China and Africa is growing at an estimated 30% per year, with raw commodities from Africa flowing out, and economic cooperation to build factories and roads flowing in.  Eighty-two percent of Chinese investment is from state-owned enterprises, and focuses on investing in countries rich in natural resources and weak institutions  (3). Country stability, corruption and presence of other foreign investors are not factors in Chinese decisions about where to invest. From 2004 to 2006, China invested 288 USD million into Sudan, considered one of the world’s least democratic countries (3).  Based on principles of “non-interference with a country’s internal affairs”, it is less concerned with countries with unstable economies (2).

What does this investment mean in terms of tobacco control? China has always been a unique policy actor in the tobacco control arena.  The Chinese National Tobacco Company (CNTC) is of critical importance to China.  It employs over 4 million people as farmers, factory employees or retailers, and produced1.7 trillion cigarettes in 2009 for China’s 350 million smokers. In an effort to go global,  the CNTC reformed their import-export system in 2007 and created the China National Tobacco International Company (CNTIC) (4). Recently, the CNTIC  created a joint venture with the North Carolina to buy top quality Virginia flue-cured tobacco (5).  Moreover, in order to comply with international standards for the export  market, efforts are being made to lower tar levels (4). China’s cigarettes are high in heavy metals (arsenic, lead and cadmium) due to the high metal content in the soil (6).

China’s domestic tobacco control policies are porous, an issue which should be a red flag for tobacco control in host countries. The  1992 advertising ban, which bans broadcast and print advertising, was shown to be flimsy and easily circumvented (7). Even an updated version following the ratification of the FCTC was weak: ‘prohibition of the introduction of tobacco vending machines’ was implemented in two administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, but merely prohibited new machines, while allowing existing machines to remain (8). With loopholes that big, point of sale advertising prolific (7) and lack of compliance to work-place smoke-free policies (9), raising the alarm on China’s possible curtailing of African host nations policies is justified.

Tobacco growing is already a target. China imports tobacco from Zimbabwe and in turn, helped Zimbabwe process its tobacco into cigarettes in preparation for export (10).  Influence of tobacco policies from transnational tobacco companies has been well documented (11–18)  however, influence from states, less so.  China has signed the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) and could possibly be held accountable for its actions should the enforcement instruments be enacted.  China has proved that it can and will evade national legislation on labour laws as it has done in Zambia over mining laws (19) . External actors are a challenge plus, local policies may not have been implemented or enforced due to what are perceived as more pressing priorities.  As Collin notes, ‘tobacco control’s exclusion from the core priorities of leading international health and development donor agencies has been seen as contributing significantly to the difficulties involved in securing adequate funding to support  FCTC implementation in resource poor settings”  (Collin, page 276,  2012). China’s attraction to hosts with unstable, weak infrastructures, which has a tendency to evade legislation to achieve aims, combined with a host country whose policy implementation resources are diverted elsewhere and you have a potent opportunity for exploitation.

China signed the FCTC 2005. The FCTC upholds signatories to suggested tobacco policies to protect citizens from advertising, smoke-free workplaces, bans smoking in restaurants and bars, and urges control of smuggled products (8). Chinese officials have met with political and finance ministers  for investment opportunities in  South Africa, Angola, Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Libya  Senegal, Liberia, Egypt and Morocco (2). Of those countries, only Morocco and Tanzania have not ratified the FCTC with the former having signed but not ratified. Smoking prevalence rates vary in Sub-Sahara Africa with South Africa,  Kenya and Malawi with a quarter of the male population smoking and the latter two countries with long histories of tobacco growing and transnational tobacco investment (11,21)  Countries with lower rates such as Nigeria (10%) and Liberia (14%) and Uganda (16%) who are keen to invest with China should do as Zambia President Sata did and set firm limits on investment. President Sata implemented strong labour policies, increased minimum wage and changed taxation in order to protect Zambia’s copper wealth (19).

Conflict zones are potentially ripe for exploitation. Evidence indicates rampant smuggling of cigarettes to buy arms in central and eastern Africa and the black market is said to 15% of the total cigarette market (22).  Transnational tobacco companies have been accused of knowingly engaging with smuggling (12,22–25) and with China’s penchant for instability, may be an opportunity to good to resist.

What should the response be in terms of tobacco control? China’s investment into Africa is seen by many as the new development donor, providing welcome infrastructure and technical advice (2,10,19). However, this investment process may have dire consequences for tobacco control if left unchecked.  For every ray of sunshine, a shadow is cast and African states with existing tobacco control policies left unimplemented and unenforced may do well to protect their investments.

Acknowledgments: Many thanks to Professor Nadia Molenaers at the University of Antwerp

REFERENCES

1.           Young A. China’s Finance Minister Says Second Half Growth Could Drop Toward 6% And Hints That Official 7.5% Estimate For 2013 Is Too High. International Business Times [Internet]. 2013 Jul 12; Available from: http://www.ibtimes.com/chinas-finance-minister-says-second-half-growth-could-drop-toward-6-hints-official-75-estimate-2013

2.           Biggeri M, Sanfilippo M. Understanding China’s move into Africa: an empirical analysis. Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies [Internet]. Routledge; 2009 Feb 1;7(1):31–54. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14765280802604714

3.           Kolstad I, Wiig A. What determines China’s outward FDI? Journal of World Business. 2012;47:26–31.

4.           Glogan T. China-Still a Mecca for the tobacco industry. Tobacco Journal International [Internet]. 2008 Jan;Accessed July 16, 2013. Available from: http://www.tobaccojournal.com/China___Still_a_Mecca_for_the_tobacco_industry.48796.0.html

5.           Southeast Farms Press. China Tobacco International to open North Carolina office. Southeast Farm Press: Timely Reliable Information for Southeast Agriculture [Internet]. 2013;Accessed July 17, 2013. Available from: http://southeastfarmpress.com/print/tobacco/china-tobacco-international-open-north-carolina-office

6.           O’Connor R, Li Q, Edryd Stephens W, Hammond D, Elton-Marshall T, Cummings M, et al. Cigarettes sold in China: design, emissions and metals. Tobacco Control. 2010;Suppl 2:i47–i53.

7.           Yang Y, Li L, Yong H, Borland R, Wu X, Li Q, et al. Regional differences in awareness of tobacco advertising and promotion in China: findings from the ITC China Survey. Tobacco Control. 2010;19:117–24.

8.           World Health Organization. Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control [Internet]. 25 June 2013 11:54 CEST. 2013 [cited 2013 Jul 16]. Available from: http://www.who.int/fctc/signatories_parties/en/

9.           Ma J, Apelberg B, Avila-Tang E, Yang G, Ma S, Samet J, et al. Workplace smoking restrictions in China: results from six country survey. Tobacco Control. 2010;19:403–9.

10.        Besada H, Wang Y, Whalley J. China’s Growing Economic Activity in Africa [Internet]. Cambridge Massachusetts; 2008 p. 33. Available from: http://asiandrivers.open.ac.uk/China Africa.pdf

11.        Patel P, Collin J, Gilmore AB. “The law was actually drafted by us but the Government is to be congratulated on its wise actions”: British American Tobacco and public policy in Kenya. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2007 Feb 1;16 (1 ):e1–e1. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/16/1/e1.abstract

12.        Skafida V, Silver KE, Rechel BPD, Gilmore AB. Change in tobacco excise policy in Bulgaria: the role of tobacco industry lobbying and smuggling. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2012 Nov 10; Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2012/12/02/tobaccocontrol-2012-050600.abstract

13.        Smith KE, Gilmore AB, Fooks G, Collin J, Weishaar H. Tobacco industry attempts to undermine Article 5.3 and the “good governance” trap. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2009 Dec 1;18 (6 ):509–11. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/18/6/509.short

14.        Gilmore AB, McKee M. Moving East: how the transnational tobacco industry gained entry to the emerging markets of the former Soviet Union—part II: an overview of priorities and tactics used to establish a manufacturing presence. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2004 Jun 1;13 (2 ):151–60. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/13/2/151.abstract

15.        Grüning T, Weishaar H, Collin J, Gilmore AB. Tobacco industry attempts to influence and use the German government to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2012 Jan 1;21 (1 ):30–8. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/21/1/30.abstract

16.        Lawrence S, Collin J. Competing with kreteks: transnational tobacco companies, globalisation, and Indonesia. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2004 Dec 1;13 (suppl 2 ):ii96–ii103. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/13/suppl_2/ii96.abstract

17.        Assunta M, Chapman S. The tobacco industry’s accounts of refining indirect tobacco advertising in Malaysia. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2004 Dec 1;13 (suppl 2 ):ii63–ii70. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/13/suppl_2/ii63.abstract

18.        MacKenzie R, Collin J, Sriwongcharoen K, Muggli ME. “If we can just ‘stall’ new unfriendly legislations, the scoreboard is already in our favour”: transnational tobacco companies and ingredients disclosure in Thailand. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2004 Dec 1;13 (suppl 2 ):ii79–ii87. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/13/suppl_2/ii79.abstract

19.        Spilsbury L. Can Michael Sata tame the Dragon and Channel Chinese Investment towards Development for Zambians? Journal of Politics & International Studies [Internet]. 2012;8(Winter):238–78. Available from: http://www.polis.leeds.ac.uk/assets/files/students/student-journal/ug-winter-12/130213-win12-laura-spilsbury-7.pdf

20.        Collin J. Tobacco control, global health policy and development: towards policy coherence in global governance. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2012 Mar 1;21 (2 ):274–80. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/21/2/274.abstract

21.        Kweyuh P. Tobacco expansion in Kenya-the socio-ecological losses. Tobacco Control. 1994;3:248–51.

22.        Titeca K, Joossens L, Raw M. Blood cigarettes: cigarette smuggling and war economies in central and eastern Africa. Tobacco Control. 2011;20:226–32.

23.        Collin J, LeGresley E, MacKenzie R, Lawrence S, Lee K. Complicity in contraband: British American Tobacco and cigarette smuggling in Asia. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2004 Dec 1;13 (suppl 2 ):ii104–ii111. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/13/suppl_2/ii104.abstract

24.        Nakkash R, Lee K. Smuggling as the “key to a combined market”: British American Tobacco in Lebanon. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2008 Oct 1;17 (5 ):324–31. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/17/5/324.abstract

25.        LeGresley E, Lee K, Muggli ME, Patel P, Collin J, Hurt RD. British American Tobacco and the “insidious impact of illicit trade” in cigarettes across Africa. Tobacco Control [Internet]. 2008 Oct 1;17 (5 ):339–46. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/17/5/339.abstract

 

Spain: Government urged not to bow to US casino boss on smoking ban challenge

18 Sep, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

 

 

Support the DON’T TOUCH THE LAW campaign (http://porquenosotrosno.com/web/smoke-free-spain-eng.html)  

The Spanish National Committee of Smoking Prevention, a coalition of scientific and medical organisations, together with official professional colleges of doctors, nurses, psychologists and dentists, and international health experts, have condemned proposed changes to Spain’s smoke free laws.

Exceptions to the law are being demanded by Sheldon Adelson, a US gambling magnate who wants smoking to be permitted in a casino he plans to build in Madrid. Dubbed EuroVegas, it is expected to be the largest gambling resort in Europe. (BMJ report here.)

The current tobacco act of Spain, introduced in 2010, prohibits smoking in all enclosed public spaces, and enjoys widespread respect and support from the Spanish population. Prior to its introduction, the 2005 act allowed smoking at the bar owner’s discretion.

Government sources are reportedly working on a formula that will legally enable regions to make exceptions in the legislation. According to Spanish media outlet El Pias, Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría has said that “there is a procedure for amendment of laws”.

Public health doctor Joseba Zabala Galán, coordinator of the grassroots movement Don’t Touch the Law, and member of the board of the Spanish National Committee of Tobacco Prevention said: “Allowing the 17 autonomous communities the ability to establish differences in the smoke-free laws, besides being a legal by-pass, would mean the end of the current Spanish smoke-free model. It would be a terrible precedent that would weaken the current successful strength and collective belief of the smoke-free law as a real and effective health public tool. We urge all concerned citizens and organisations to support our campaign to keep the current law.”

Stopping tobacco industry interference: using The Union Toolkit on FCTC Article 5.3

9 Sep, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

 

Anne Jones, Technical Advisor

The Union http://www.theunion.org/ 

(Formerly International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease)

12-14 August Jaipur, India: Stopping tobacco industry interference in health policies was high on the agenda for 24 policy makers and health leaders when they met to workshop a new toolkit on implementing Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3.  The workshop, organised by The Union South-East Asia Office in New Delhi, was convened to assist with the development of action plans for monitoring, exposing and stopping tobacco industry interference in health policies.

The group developed plans for implementing government directives and codes of conduct aimed at ending conflicts of interest.  Participants on the final day made the “Jaipur Promise” – a commitment to reverse the one  million tobacco deaths every year by protecting health policies from the increasingly aggressive interference of powerful tobacco interests. The Union toolkit can be downloaded here.

Group photograph_jaipur workshop_edit

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