With the adoption of the Guidelines for the Implementation of WHO FCTC Article 5.3 (Protection of Public Health Policies with Respect to Tobacco Control from Commercial and Other Vested Interests of the Tobacco Industry) in 2008 by Parties to the tobacco control treaty, the international community specified underlying principles in relation to protecting public health policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry.


The guiding principles adopted by the Parties to the WHO FCTC are, as follows:

1. There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the interests of the tobacco industry and public health policy interests.

This conflict of interest principle reflects the unanimous recognition by different countries of the fact that the business of the tobacco industry contributes greatly to diseases, deaths, and other social ills, including increasing poverty. Because of this conflict of interest, governments must protect the setting and implementation of public health policies from any interference by the tobacco industry to the greatest extent possible. The words “fundamental and irreconcilable” emphasize that this is one principle that leaves no room for compromise, not even when the tobacco industry happens to be state-owned.

2. Parties, when dealing with the tobacco industry or those working to further its interests, should be accountable and transparent.

This principle underscores the need for transparency and accountability measures to govern how governments and their agencies, personnel, and agents interact with the tobacco industry. Any interactions by any government branch (executive, legislative, judiciary) responsible for setting and implementing tobacco control policies should be accountable and transparent.

3. Parties should require the tobacco industry and those working to further its interests to operate and act in a manner that is accountable and transparent

In order to effectively implement WHO FCTC Article 5.3, governments must require the tobacco industry to submit specific information that will eliminate industry activities undermining tobacco control, and that will assist in the setting and implementation of effective tobacco control measures. In addition, the tobacco industry must be made accountable for its actions and for the accuracy and completeness of the information it provides.

4. Because its products are lethal, the tobacco industry should not be granted incentives to establish or run its businesses.

Governments providing preferential treatment or incentives to the tobacco industry would invariably be protecting and promoting interests that are diametrically opposed to those of public health.

In accordance with the Guiding Principles, eight specific recommendations were developed to assist the Parties in implementing Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC

  • Establish measures to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensure the transparency of those interactions that occur.

Each recommendation listed below is accompanied by some challenges and questions that governments will face in implementing tobacco control measures, followed by recommended actions under the Article 5.3 Guidelines to address these challenges.

According to the Guidelines, each Party should:

  1. Raise awareness about the addictive and harmful nature of tobacco products and about tobacco industry interference with Parties’ tobacco control policies.
    Challenge: Lack of understanding of the past and present interferenceby the tobacco industry, including strategies and tactics it uses to interfere in tobacco control.
    Recommended action: Raise awareness about the addictive and harmful nature of tobacco products, about who compose the tobacco industry, and how they have interfered and continue to interfere in policy development and implementation.
  2. Establish measures to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensure the transparency of those interactions that occur.
    Challenge: Some tobacco industry and government interactions are necessary for purposes of industry regulation, supervision, or control; many are not.
    Recommended action: Avoid interactions with the tobacco industry unless strictly necessary.
  3. Reject partnerships and non-binding or non-enforceable agreements with the tobacco industry.
    Challenge: The tobacco industry creates partnerships with and offers voluntary agreements and policy drafts to the government.
    Recommended action: Do not partner with, accept, support, or endorse any offer of assistance from the tobacco industry.
  4. Avoid conflicts of interest for government officials and employees.
    Challenge: The tobacco industry gives donations, contributions, and gifts, or invites officials to be their consultants. The government has investments in the tobacco business.
    Recommended action: Do not accept contributions, gifts, or special invitations from the tobacco industry.
  5. Require that information collected from the tobacco industry be transparent and accurate.
    Challenge: The tobacco industry does not disclose and is not transparent about its activities, including lobbying and political contributions.
    Recommended action: Require the tobacco industry to be transparent and accountable.
  6. Denormalize and, to the extent possible, regulate activities described as “socially responsible” by the tobacco industry, including but not limited to activities described as “corporate social responsibility” (CSR).
     Challenge: The tobacco industry does so-called CSR to remove attention from the harmful effects of its tobacco products, to interfere in public health policy, and for it to serve as a marketing and public relations strategy.
    Recommended action: Denormalize so-called CSR by not partnering or participating in such activities and by disallowing any government agency from accepting tobacco industry contributions.
  7. Do not give privileged treatment to tobacco companies.
    Challenge: The government gives incentives, exemptions, or benefits to the tobacco industry.
    Recommended action: Do not give privileges or benefits to the tobacco industry.
  8. Treat state-owned tobacco companies in the same way as any other tobacco industry.
     Challenge: Existence of state-owned tobacco monopolies or companies.
    Recommended action: Treat all tobacco companies, including state monopolies, the same way.

BEST PRACTICES : How countries apply Article 5.3



  • Establish a core group
  • Raise awareness
  • Strategize
  • Build capacity


  • Code of Conduct
  • Require information
  • No incentives for tobacco
  • No CSR from tobacco


  • Monitor and report the progress
  • Evaluate the policies, strategies,
    and programs
  • Continue monitoring interference