Tobacco Industry Strategies to Obstruct the FCTC in Argentina

CVD Prev Control. 2008 Dec;3(4):173-179. doi: 10.1016/j.cvdpc.2008.09.002.


OBJECTIVE: To describe the strategies pursued by the tobacco industry (TI) to interfere with the ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Argentina. METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews about the FCTC, the TI and the legislative process with 3 legislators, 4 public health officials, 1 representative of the tobacco growers and two tobacco-control advocates. We reviewed 6 newspapers from the 4 tobacco growing provinces, searched TI documents in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and reviewed 1624 documents. Proposed legislation and related documents on tobacco control from Argentina's National Congress and the Provincial Jujuy Congress were reviewed. RESULTS: The principal strategy used by the TI was lobbying of provincial legislators and federal officials from the Ministry of the Economy by the tobacco growers associations. These legislators prevented the passage of comprehensive bills on tobacco control or of less comprehensive national laws. A typical legislative strategy used was to request additional analyses of the proposed bills from committees that prioritized economic issues over health. FCTC was mentioned in regional newspapers three to seven times per week in articles about alleged adverse economic effects of tobacco control. Direct physical threats to legislators who were openly supportive of FCTC ratification were made. CONCLUSION: Tobacco producers and TI opposed FCTC ratification in Argentina by lobbying elected representatives and placing stories in regional media to obstruct approval of tobacco control laws. These activities have led to a delay in consideration of Argentina's ratification of the FCTC despite the President's signature in 2003. (250 words).