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WHF and partners call on UN Secretary General to reject proposal for a “more nuanced” relationship with tobacco industry

25 Jul 2019

Secretary General Antonio Guterres
United Nations, S-233
New York, NY 10027

Dear Secretary-General Guterres,

On behalf of the members of the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health, we are writing to you because we are deeply concerned by a letter on the role of the tobacco industry in the United Nation’s (UN) 2030 Agenda that you received from the outgoing Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), Mr. Michael Møller.

Regarding Mr. Møller’s call for a “more nuanced” relationship between the tobacco industry and the UN system, we would like to highlight Sustainable Development Goal Target 3.A, which calls on parties to “strengthen the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries, as appropriate”. We regret that Mr. Møller’s comments represent a threat to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and furthermore stand in direct conflict with the legally-binding Article 5.3 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which states that “Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry”, for “…there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests”.

In solidarity with the Framework Convention Alliance, Action on Smoking and Health, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products, the undersigned members of the Global Coalition respectfully ask you to publicly reject Mr. Møller’s letter in its entirety and encourage those colleagues and members of the international community with whom it has been shared to disregard its contents.

In turn, we pledge to stay vigilant in the defense of international law concerning tobacco industry interference, continuing to warn all relevant parties around the world of the dangerous implications of engagement. We remain confident that neither you nor your esteemed colleagues at the World Health Organization will be fooled by the toxic influence of the tobacco industry, no matter how they may attempt to ingratiate themselves in the global agenda.


International Council of Nurses
International Society of Nephrology
World Heart Federation
World Hypertension League
World Organization of Family Doctors
World Stroke Organization