POLICY TO REQUIRE INFORMATION FROM THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY

Various government agencies require different types of information from the tobacco industry as part of their operations. For instance, production, income, and assets are reported to the national revenue authorities as well as the local authorities for taxation purposes and for the granting of permits, respectively. The various guidelines adopted by the Parties for the implementation of the FCTC refer to more types of information that would enable governments to further regulate tobacco industry’s operation especially in marketing, advertising, and sponsorship. There is insufficient data on the kinds of information that the tobacco industry is required to submit in different jurisdictions. Many governments, including local ones, are wary about demanding new types of information from the tobacco industry under the assumption that these are confidential or trade secrets. However, the guidelines, being based on evidence and best practice, suggest that the information listed in them are actually required in some jurisdictions and should be required from the tobacco industry in order to effectively implement provisions of the FCTC. Parties to the FCTC can benefit by updating each other on the various types of information governments require from the tobacco industry, the level of detail required, manner and frequency of submission, etc. To facilitate treaty implementation, this type of information exchange should be undertaken in accordance with the FCTC.

For purposes of regulation and improving tobacco control policies, governments need to develop clear policies outlining what information is required from the tobacco industry, the form and frequency of submission, the agency reviewing the information submitted, and the sanctions for failure to comply. The tobacco industry is expected to resist the requirement to submit information under the guise that these are trade secrets. Trade secret rules do not prohibit disclosure to government; instead they prevent public disclosure. It is possible for governments to provide limited exceptions (in the form of a short and specific list) as to the information item that should not be disclosed to the public without justifiable cause or reason.

DRAFT POLICY

This is a draft policy template that sums up the list of information to be demanded from the tobacco industry and provides for sanctions in case of submission of false information.

OBJECTIVE: To ensure that tobacco industry information relevant to tobacco control is available to the public.

COVERAGE: This policy applies to agencies that regulate or have jurisdiction over any organization comprising the tobacco industry.

ELEMENTS:

1. Identifying and gathering pertinent information that will help the government comply with its obligations under the WHO FCTC.
2. Disclosure of or registration of entities, organizations, or individuals affiliated with or acting on their behalf.
3. Obliging agencies to share information with other agencies and with the public with the intention of promoting transparency and accountability in government. Civil society’s access to information is essential in encouraging its participation in monitoring the tobacco industry.
4. Requiring that documents submitted must be with the understanding that such contain true and accurate information in order to ensure reliability of documents from and accountability of the tobacco industry.

MODE: This policy can be adopted through a law or an issuance by the pertinent ministry. The local government can be required to gather pertinent business information. Moreover, the Securities and Exchange Commission can require information relating to registration of tobacco industry affiliation.

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