Government has a duty to protect public health laws and policies from commercial and other vested interests of the Tobacco industry
We, the Uganda National Health Users’/Consumers’ Organization call upon the COVID-19 National Task-force to look into the issue of the contribution from Leaf Tobacco and Merchandise LTD and Meridian Tobacco Company to the COVID-19 fight.
During the National address by His Excellence the president of Uganda on Tuesday 14th April, he read Meridian and Leaf Tobacco and Merchandise Ltd among companies that contributed to the fight against covid19. The two companies contributed 250m.
However, Tobacco Industry contribution to any government project/program contravenes section 22 of the Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Tobacco industry manufacture products that have been proven to cause diseases, disability and death.
Under the WHO’s framework convention on tobacco control, Uganda is not supposed to deal with the tobacco industry. Partnership with the tobacco industry undermines governments’ credibility in protecting population health as there is ‘a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests’.”
By donating, the two companies are trying to improve their corporate image by showing social responsibility to the population, media and decision makers. This is also intended to send deceptive messages to the public about Tobacco Industry operations and their products.