Conclusion and Recommendations
In comparison with their 2021 scores, three (3) countries, Burkina Faso, Botswana and Ethiopia showed marked improvement, whilst two (2) countries marginally improved (Cote d’ivoire and Zambia), one (1) remained unchanged, while eight (8) countries showed deterioration from their 2021 rankings (Figure 16). Kenya showed the highest level of deterioration. Two factors are likely to have influenced these outcomes: (1) the tobacco industry’s unrelenting and more aggressive tactics, including the introduction of novel products (such as ENDS/ENNDS) as seen in Kenya and South Africa, and (2) increasing public awareness and civil society’s capacity to monitor and de-normalize the industry’s activities.
Progress In Countering Tobacco Industry Interference (negative values indicate deterioration and positive values indicate improvement)
Some recommnedations emerging from the report include;
The tobacco industry should be excluded and not be given credit as a stakeholder at any level or stage of health or emergency preparedness such as droughts and any social policy development.
The tobacco and related industries, like that producing electronic nicotine products, utilize a suite of evolving tactics to maintain and grow their consumer base. Countries must remain vigilant in implementing WHO FCTC Article 5.3 and be prepared for the attempts by industry to challenge and undermine tobacco control efforts.
Countries must expedite the passage of regulations on the use on novel tobacco products and tobacco control laws.
countries should develop and implement a comprehensive awareness campaign for government officials, decision-makers, and politicians on the obligations of the WHO FCTC with a special focus on Guidelines on Article 5.3, tobacco industry tactics and tobacco CSR activities. The capacity of these various stakeholders to recognize tobacco industry tactics and counter these tactics needs to be strengthen through the deployement of appropriate training programmes.
Countries that have not ratified the illict tobacco protocol should ratify it and establish a tracking and tracing system independent of industry interference.
Data and evidence not only help to drive policy progress but also policy implementation. Countries should conduct representative surveys and appropriate research to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of adopted policies, and to help adapt implementation to ensure that the whole population is protected from and well-informed about the harms of tobacco.
In line with WHO FCTC Article 17, there is an urgent need to promote economically viable alternative livelihood to tobacco production to avoid possible adverse social and economic impacts on populations whose livelihoods depend largely on tobacco cultivation.
Countries in the African region should adopt a code of conduct that protects officials from industry influence and limits interactions to only when strictly necessary and also ensure public officials in relevant ministries, departments and agencies sign conflict-of-interest forms periodically to remind them of commitments or obligations that may compromise their office and operations.
Countries must conduct periodic and extensive in-depth research to counter the tobacco industry and allies’ misinformation on emerging products like e-cigarette as a cessation aid for users of traditional cigarettes. The tobacco industry must also be prevented from promoting these products as safer alternative.
Civil society must be empowered by govenements to play a role in preventing and addressing tobacco and related industries’ interference (such as those that are involved in the production or sale of nicotine products like ENDS).
The continued sale of single sticks of cigarettes despite a ban and the arrival of tobacco products marked “Duty-Free” at the country’s ports, and others all result in enormous benefits and incentives for the tobacco industry.
Partnerships across government and with nongovernmental organizations and academia, help to strengthen and magnify the efforts of all. In collaboration partners can leverage each other’s strength to reach the common aim of reducing the impact of tobacco on populations globally.
For example, in Kenya, it was recommended that action be taken on tobacco industry players and public officials who continue to flout the provisions of the law with regard to tobacco industry interference such as Part V of Tobacco Control Regulations (TCR) 2014, Tobacco Control Act 2007 and Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC. Such action would serve as an indication of government commitment to stop tobacco industry interference.