CTFK Statement: U.S. Authorities Urged to Investigate British American Tobacco for Allegations of Widespread Bribery and Corruption in Africa

CTFK Statement: U.S. Authorities Urged to Investigate British American Tobacco for Allegations of Widespread Bribery and Corruption in Africa

Following new allegations about the conduct of British American Tobacco (BAT) in Africa –published today by The Guardian – the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) urged the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate BAT and its subsidiaries for possible violations of the anti-bribery and accounting provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Tobacco-Free Kids requested the investigation in a letter to the two government agencies.

British American Tobacco has faced mounting allegations that the company engaged in widespread bribery and corruption in Africa to gain an advantage over competitors and stifle government efforts to curb smoking.

Earlier this month, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) formally launched an investigation of BAT on suspicions of corruption. An investigative report published today by The Guardian revealed new allegations that, for years, BAT secretly and possibly illegally moved millions of U.S. dollars in cash across international borders into the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) allegedly to support the company’s tobacco leaf operations in that country.

The new allegations indicate BAT’s operations included engaging with armed rebels involved in the long-standing DRC conflict in order to make secret cash drops used to pay for tobacco leaf from farmers in Auzi, an unmapped town BAT built in the 1950’s, according to The Guardian.

In addition to possible violations of the FCPA, The Guardian report raises questions about whether BAT’s conduct in moving U.S. dollars during the DRC conflict also violates federal anti-money laundering laws, especially as the U.S. has had sanctions in place against the DRC since 2006. The story also exposes BAT’s role in flooding South Sudan with its cheapest cigarette brands following years of war and operating around terrorist networks in Somalia to continue selling cigarettes in the country.

The growing allegations about BAT’s conduct are particularly alarming following the July 2017 merger of BAT and Reynolds American in the United States. The recent merger places BAT in a leading position in the U.S. market and, according to BAT, created the largest tobacco company in the world by operating profits.

“Given British American Tobacco’s decades-long history of calculated deception in the United States and abroad and its re-entry into the U.S. market, the mounting allegations of corruption and mass concealment of funds by BAT must be fully investigated by U.S. regulators for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and any other applicable criminal or civil laws,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “This is a company that has proven it cannot and will not play by the rules. Unless and until they are held accountable by governments, shareholders, business partners and the public, the company’s wrongdoing will only continue.”

Alleged corruption within BAT was first publicly exposed in November 2015 when the BBC, and later other news outlets, revealed allegations that the company was engaging in bribery and other corrupt acts that included bribing Ministry of Health officials in Burundi, Comoros and Rwanda, a former Kenyan Minister of Justice and a Member of Parliament from Uganda.

Tobacco use kills more than seven million people worldwide each year. Without urgent action by governments to pass proven tobacco control laws and curb the power and influence of tobacco companies, tobacco use will kill one billion people this century.

Tobacco Control Regional Media Training

Tobacco Control Regional Media Training

The Uganda Health Communication Alliance (UHCA) is a professional organisation that brings together journalists and other communication professionals from non-government organisations, government and academia.

UHCA is also a Tobacco Control Advocate organisation that uses its influence with the media to promote, inform and guide journalists on how to broadcast and report about the Tobacco Control activities in Uganda.

This week, UHCA is travelling the country talking to media practitioners about the need to report about the implement the Tobacco Control Law.  Below in images are the session;

The above images are during the media training in Western Uganda on the Tobacco Control Act, dangers of tobacco use, Tobacco Industry tactics and emphasizing compliance.  In this region UHCA covered districts of Fortportal, Kibito, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa and Kasese.

The picture below also from South western Uganda in the districts of Bushenyi, Ntungamo, and Mbarara, also  had the same focus as the one above.

We will be sharing more about these regional Tobacco Control media training in our next update.

Tobacco Activists back prosecution of cigarette dealers

Tobacco Activists back prosecution of cigarette dealers

Activities have tasked government to prosecute cigarette dealers, who do not comply with the tobacco law.

The law came into force last week, after the Constitutional Court blocked a move by the British American Tobacco (BAT) to temporarily halt government’s implementation of the Tobacco Control Act 2015.

Speaking to journalists during a press conference in Kampala, Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, the national tobacco control focal person in the health ministry also warned the Police against soliciting bribes from cigarette dealers, saying they also risk prosecution.

“If Police connives with those people and refuse to arraign them in court, they will also face prosecution because they would be derailing the law,” she said.

She said Government spends over sh1.8b in treating tobacco- related diseases every year.

“The cost of treating a patient with tobacco-related cancer is at a minimum of sh6m, as the cost of chemotherapy for six cycles which can escalate in the event that it recurs even to the second consumer,” Ndyanabangi said.

Source: New Vision Uganda.

Tobacco Control Activists to Sue UFZA Head Over Contravention of the Law

Tobacco Control Activists to Sue UFZA Head Over Contravention of the Law

Tobacco control activists led by the head of mental health division in the ministry of health and the focus spokes person of Tobacco Control Uganda, Dr.  Sheila Ndyanabangi have committed to drag the executive director of Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA) Richard Jabo to court, in case he fails to revoke the agreement giving out land measuring two hectares of land to Nilus Limited in Jinja district to enable it set up a 11 millon US dollar tobacco industry.

Dr. Ndyanabangi said that the Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), the Tobacco advocates legal arm is to first write a legal opinion to the Executive Director of  UFZA Richard Jabo, interesting him on how he awarded the land illegal since his action contravenes the Tobacco Control Act 2015 which prohibits any public servant from conniving with people in the tobacco industry or giving or receiving any incentive from the tobacco industry.

“Uganda free zone authority’ agreement with that tobacco company is null and void whether they did it knowingly or ignorantly. We shall first write a legal opinion to them, instructing them to withdraw the contract in addition to publishing it in press and once they fail to comply then we shall have no option other than prosecuting the Executive director individually since the law criminalize the organisation head not the organisation ” Said Ndyanabangi.

It should be noted that UFZA has been added to Ministry of trade, industries and cooperatives which also contravened the same act by declaring 2017 a tobacco growing year.

Tobacco control advocates emphasis that in case the two fail to abide by their legal opinions, they will be no other option other than prosecuting them.

The Tobacco control act 2015 was assented to by president Yoweri Kagutta Museveni on the 19th of  August 2015 and came into force on the 19 may of 2016 but it was given a grace period of one year to be fully implemented, which ended on 18th May 2017.

The act banned favored tobacco like Shisha, kuber and electronic cigarette, bans smoking in public places, advertising of tobacco products, refrains any public official from dealing in whatever way with the tobacco industry and once found guilty is liable to a fine of not less than one million shillings,  imprisonment not less than a year or serve both punishments.

The warning comes at a time when over 180 countries globally have adopted a similar law and when preparations for Uganda to join the rest of the world in commemoration of the world no tobacco day due every 31 of May are in high gear with this year’s theme being Tobacco affecting development.

Uganda Police Confiscates Tobacco Banned Products and Arrests Users

Uganda Police Confiscates Tobacco Banned Products and Arrests Users

After undergoing Tobacco Control Law Implementation training, Uganda Police has been carrying out raids in public places where banned products like Shisha are being sold and used.

Tobacco Control Law training for Uganda Police.

On Friday evening from 7pm to 1am Uganda Police Force took out an operation against ignore tobacco product in the Kampala Center region.

Place like Arua park had 7 people arrested and a number of shisha pots confiscated, while Shade Bar and Restaurant had all it’s shisha users arrested. Laftaz Comedy Lounge in Centenary Park had its 41 shisha pots impounded, and Kyoto Turkish Restaurant & Bar also in Centenary Park had 34 pots and delivery systems confiscated by the police.

Zone7 in Bugolobi was the only one found with no banned products like shisha but Mugiez Corporate Zone Reloaded or Mugiez Corporate ZONE, shisha pots and their delivery systems were hidden and out of use. The manager of the bar said that they had stopped selling shisha and kept the pots after they had about the arrests. He lead the Police DPC heading the operation to the story where they were hidden. There were 7 pots and their delivery systems, which the police confiscated.

This was the third raid by police implementing the Tobacco Control Law. The first one was in Mukono town, second on Acacia Avenue.

The DPC commented and said that some entertainment places in Kampala central were no longer dealing in shisha, and this is a great thing because people are promoting and implementing the Tobacco Control Law.

What does the recent ruling on tobacco control regulations mean for the fight against NCDs in Kenya?

What does the recent ruling on tobacco control regulations mean for the fight against NCDs in Kenya?

Kenya is currently celebrating 10 years since the enactment of the Tobacco Control Act 2007, developed following Kenya’s ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004 (link is external). Although the Act has been operational since 2007, full realisation of the gains intended has been elusive due to delays in implementing its associated regulations. The Tobacco Control Regulations 2007 are meant to be subsidiary laws intended to put into effect specific provisions of the Tobacco Control Act 2007 – but the tobacco industry have consistently fought legislation, realising that the regulations would ultimately impact on sales of their health harming products.

Tobacco in Kenya – what’s the problem?

Tobacco is the most preventable cause of death globally and has been singled out as one of the major risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases (link is external) (NCDs). Owing to this, a global NCDs agenda of reducing up to 30% of prevalence of tobacco use from people 15+ years by 2030 was set within the Sustainable Development Goals (link is external). According to Kenya STEPwise, a survey conducted in 2015 to collect information on the risk factors for NCDs, it is estimated that up to thirteen percent (13%) of Kenyans currently use some form of tobacco products (link is external). About ten percent (10.1%) of this population uses smoked tobacco products such as cigarettes, pipes and shisha, while the remaining three percent (3%) use smokeless tobacco.

Furthermore, it is estimated that nearly twenty-one percent (20.9%) of Kenyans are exposed to second hand smoke at home and work. These are indeed alarming statistics given the disturbing burden of NCDs in Kenya. On Thursday January 5, 2017, The Acting Director of World Health Organization’s (WHO) NCD cluster, and WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti decried the increasing burden of NCDs in Africa stating that heavy reliance on tobacco use was among the major causes of the rising NCDs and related deaths in the continent (link is external).

Kenyan Tobacco Control Regulations: a major boost in the fight against NCDs

The Tobacco Control Regulations 2014, give a greenlight to regulation of packaging and labelling of tobacco products manufactured locally or imported. Tobacco companies in Kenya are mandated by the regulations to print pictorial health warnings (PHWs) on both sides of their cigarette packs. Having explicit graphical/ pictorial health warnings depicting health effects of tobacco use have been lauded (link is external) as an effective way of encouraging tobacco smokers to quit smoking and discouraging others from starting the habit.

Involuntary exposure to second hand tobacco smoke is also a major concern to the fight against NCDs. With nearly twenty one percent of Kenyans involuntarily exposed to second hand tobacco smoke, there has been a sharp rise of NCDs among children, people living with disability and those living with AIDS. Effective implementation and enforcement of the Tobacco Control Regulations will protect the general public against exposure to second hand tobacco smoke in public places, and distinct private places where children and other vulnerable people could be exposed to tobacco smoke.

NCDs must be taken seriously and resourced sufficiently to maintain momentum

Incapacitation in the fight against NCDs in Kenya and in Africa has largely been attributed to low prioritisation of NCDs within the national agenda. This has in turn affected how resources are being allocated to NCD programs in Kenya, as well as the rest of the continent.

The Tobacco Control Regulations 2014, shine some rays of hope. In a quest to curb the rising negative health effects of tobacco use, these regulations have strongly highlighted provisions for the tobacco companies to justifiably take on the responsibility of dealing with these effects and costs to society. The regulations outline strong provisions for the tobacco companies to mandatorily contribute annually to the Tobacco Control Fund (TCF), through which the Ministry of Health is able to set up structures to support cessation programs, as well as conducting research especially on chronic conditions resulting from heavy reliance on tobacco use.

The tobacco industry – implicated in disease and death, but still fighting for their own survival

The tobacco industry sees the regulations as a threat to their business and income streams, which have increasingly focused on growing markets in Africa. Since before the implementation of the Tobacco Control Act of 2007, the industry has fought legislation in court, a test of our government’s financial resources, commitment to health, and resilience.

On Friday February 17, 2017 a major ruling was made by the Kenya’s Court of Appeal upholding the Tobacco Control Regulations 2007 and disqualifying an appeal case lodged by British American Tobacco (BAT) and Mastermind Tobacco Kenya Limited. Earlier BAT had prevented the Tobacco Control Regulations 2014 from coming into effect in June 2015 through a legal process at the High Court challenging the constitutionality of the regulations. In March 2016, the High Court made a judgement in favour of the regulations which BAT opted to appeal, faulting the judgement by the High Court. They just would not sit back and accept the rule of court, and health advocates again ramped up in efforts to resist the appeal and ensure that the right to health was protected.

The fight against tobacco and NCDs can’t stop with this latest ruling – there’s much to be done

For all these gains to be enjoyed, there needs to be

  1. Political goodwill to fully implement general tobacco control policies in Kenya;
  2. Unwavering commitment by people charged with the responsibilities of overseeing compliance and enforcing the regulations; and
  3. Consistent monitoring and reporting structures on the achievements made in the implementation and enforcement of the regulations.

We hope that BAT’s appeal was the industry’s final assault on regulations designed to align with the FCTC, and in doing so protect the health of Kenyans today and into the future. We recognise the determination of the tobacco industry to disrupt and interfere using any means to protect their business. We stand vigilant to hold them at bay, and support the government and health sector in efforts to prevent tobacco related harm in Kenya. We also hope that our story inspires other governments and health advocates taking on the tobacco industry in court – it can be done, indeed – it must.

 

About the Author

Achieng Otieno (@sachieng (link is external)) is Communication and Digital Advocate for Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) (link is external) (@KETCA1 (link is external)). KETCA is a not-for-profit organisation that brings together civil society organisations advocating for tobacco control in Kenya. KETCA is a member of the NCD Alliance in Kenya (NCDAK).(link is external) The victory over BAT and Mastermind Tobacco were a result of collaborative effort from various stakeholders within the country and beyond, and for that KETCA expresses appreciation to supporters.

Tobacco Control Radio Messages

Tobacco Control Radio Messages

More important to us than anything is that you not only hear about the Tobacco Control Act, but also understand it from us and not the law enforcers when enforcement begins. So in a bid to achieve this, we’ve gone ahead to break it down for the public in all forms. Several workshops, public dialogues and most recently, radio ads and bill boards.

So in the next few days while you listen to your radio or walk/drive around in your neighborhood, you’ll hear and read vital information about the law. From the complete ban on hookah/shisha, to the 50 meter requirement for every smoker, you’ll know about it all.

Interestingly for the radio listeners, you can also win airtime from us! All you have to do is to listen to the radio stations in your region during the day and relay to us the message you hear about us. You can tell us on either our Facebook page( TobaccoControlUg) or on twitter, ( @TobaccoCtrlUg). Happy winning!

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Government of Gabon adopts five tobacco control decrees

Title: Government of Gabon adopts five tobacco control decrees

The Government of Gabon has adopted five decrees in support of tobacco control. The decrees adopted in April 2016 are aimed at providing a legal framework for the effective implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, (FCTC).   The decrees cover the following FCTC components;    


Source: Government of Gabon adopts five tobacco control decrees

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CTCA and IDRC urged to develop a bigger community of tobacco control researchers in Africa

Title: CTCA and IDRC urged to develop a bigger community of tobacco control researchers in Africa

Researchers in tobacco control have been advised to always add an economic angle to their findings so as to make the research outcomes more appealing to policy makers.  This was one of the key observations during the annual dissemination workshop for research findings by the Second Cohort of tobacco control Grant beneficiaries from the CTCA-IDRC Masters Scholarship program.  The Dissemination held at the Kabira Country Club Hotel in Kampala from July 12-13, is attended by both students of the 2nd and third cohort, mentors, coordinators and supervisors of the students. 


Source: CTCA and IDRC urged to develop a bigger community of tobacco control researchers in Africa

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CTCA undertakes an assessment for implementing Alternative Livelihoods in Kenya

Title: CTCA undertakes an assessment for implementing Alternative Livelihoods in Kenya

Nairobi: July 7, 2016- 

The Government of Kenya has expressed commitment to work with CTCA to facilitate tobacco farmers to transit from tobacco growing to other economically viable alternatives.  This revelation was made during a fact finding mission  jointly carried out by the CTCA and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Kenya  on the implementation of Article 17 and 18 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).  A series of consultative meetings are currently under way with the various key government stakeholders to establish the status of implementation for article 17 and 18, as well as the most appropriate strategies for implementing the same. 


Source: CTCA undertakes an assessment for implementing Alternative Livelihoods in Kenya