The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has launched the TakeApart Nigeria Report titled, “The Big Tobacco Allies – How tobacco companies use intermediaries to foster their corporate social responsibility initiatives and promote their image in Nigeria.”
The report, which documents a series of instances, where tobacco multinationals use intermediaries to foster their efforts to undermine implementation of the WHO FCTC, maps tobacco industry allies and exposes how tobacco companies use them to clean their image and grow their business.
The report, relying on surveys carried out by CAPPA across Nigeria with support from the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) exposes among others, how tobacco multinationals undertake partnerships with the Nigerian government; how several entities organize events and implement programmes that promote tobacco industry initiatives; how several entities provide technical and/or intellectual support to the tobacco industry; how front groups launder tobacco industry image through social development engagements; how tobacco companies hide behind front groups to promote educational initiatives; how front groups whitewash tobacco industry image through environmental projects; how tobacco companies use fronts to organise trainings and seminars; and how tobacco multinationals use front groups to undertake unnecessary interactions with government officials, among others.
The report highlights the fact that the use of intermediaries by the tobacco industry poses a threat to the advancement of tobacco control in Nigeria as it facilitates interaction of the industry with public officials, enabling multinationals to garner good media reviews and further their inroads into the public space.
CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “Tobacco industry interference is a major challenge to effective tobacco control. The TakeApart Nigeria Report is a vital tool that will enable the Nigerian government and public health advocates to identify and plug loopholes that the tobacco industry and its allies and front groups have exploited to interfere in public health policy.”
He also appealed to Nigerians not to embrace tobacco consumption in any form in their culture, stressing that it causes cancer.
Contributing, the CAPPA Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor, said: “The TakeApart Nigeria Report is a product of painstaking investigation, which unearthed how the tobacco industry and its front groups pull wool over our faces. We are now handing the Nigerian government the resource that is necessary to ending the unnecessary interactions that the tobacco industry initiates.”
The report made several recommendations on how the tobacco industry could be checkmated. They include:
· Full implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.
· Halt of economic incentives and benefits to the tobacco industry.
· Prohibition of all interactions with the tobacco industry not related to policy implementation.
· Establishment of a policy for government agencies to fully disclose minutes and proceedings of meetings and interactions with the tobacco industry.
· Regular updating of information websites to ensure easy information dissemination that will in turn guarantee transparency.
· Sensitization of authorities on the public health implications of interactions with the industry.
· Periodic declaration of no conflict of interest by stakeholders must interact with the tobacco industry.