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    Open letter “European Union must stop tobacco industry’s greenwashing”


    In an op-ed dedicated to World No Tobacco DayLe Monde explains that the EU must not fall into the Big Tobacco’s trap when it comes to the environmental impact. Initiated by ACT and proposed for signature during the ACT-ENSP event on May 24th, this op-ed aims to dismantle the misleading information about the industry’s “green” actions and to end its collaboration with all public institutions.

    Tobacco industry: an environmental disaster, from production to post-consumption

    The devastating consequences of smoking on public health are well known and documented, as tobacco products are still responsible for more than 700,000 deaths per year in Europe. Yet, the disastrous environmental consequences for which the tobacco industry is responsible are less known.
    Throughout their whole life cycle, tobacco products are responsible for environmental pollution and degradation, such as deforestation, the poisoning of water, air, and soil with chemicals and microplastic contamination. Each year, more than 4,5 trillion cigarettes are discarded in the environment. Almost all of them have a cellulose acetate filter attached, a poorly degradable plastic additive which can pollute up to 500L of water and which are the second most found-single use plastic items on beaches in the European Union.

    Tobacco industry’s greenwashing tactics

    In plain contradiction with these facts, tobacco industry multiplies its attempts to present itself as a responsible and environmentally friendly industry. Whether it is through the communication available on the official websites of its main companies or the extensive promotion and advertising of beach cleaning activities of their product waste by volunteers , the tobacco industry diverts and manipulates the facts. It evades its environmental responsibility while regaining legitimacy with public authorities.
    By creating an appearance of respectability, this behaviour jeopardizes several decades of efforts by civil society and governments’ efforts to prevent and denounce the devastating health, social, environmental, and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and production. These efforts have notably led to the signature of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) by 180 Parties including the European Union, covering more than 90% of the world population, and aiming at protecting present and future generation from the tobacco industry.

    Tobacco waste management: a greenwashing opportunity for the industry

    A striking example of greenwashing activities is the role awarded to the tobacco industry in the management of cigarette butts. In application of the polluter-pays principle, the European Union has adopted in 2019 a directive on single-use plastic products, including cigarette filters. Among other obligations, this text will oblige tobacco producers to cover the costs relating to the clean-up, transport and treatment of cigarette butts and Member States to develop awareness raising measures on this matter.
    However, without clarification from the European Commission, Member States may entirely delegate to the tobacco industry the management, or part of the management, of its waste. This is already the case in France which has entrusted all tobacco companies, united in an eco-organization called ALCOME, with the management and communication around pollution of its cigarette butts. ALCOME has thus already signed several dozen contracts with local authorities and already takes the opportunity to blame smokers for its pollution

    The European Union must not fall into the tobacco industry’s trap

    Delegating this environmental mission to the tobacco industry jeopardizes decades of health policy aimed at keeping the tobacco industry away from any public service mission. Such a delegation is in flagrant contradiction with article 5.3 of the FCTC which requires Parties to protect their policies from the interests of the tobacco industry. The role of the tobacco industry should be limited to financing the clean-up and management of cigarette butts. The tobacco industry should not be involved in any way, directly or indirectly, in the management or supervision of cigarette butts the organisation of awareness campaigns on this subject. This should be reserved for an eco-organization entirely independent of the tobacco industry.
    We, the undersigned organisations, having already expressed our concerns to the European Commission, call upon Member States of the European Union to address this issue during the next European Environmental Council to be held on June 28. The implementation of international agreements protecting public health and the environment, and in particular the FCTC and its article 5.3., should invite them to refuse this blatant attempt at greenwashing by the tobacco industry.

    You can still sign the letter here

    Organizational signatories

    Kurt AignerPresident of the Austrian Council on Smoking and Health, Austria
    Julio AncocheaASOMEGA (Asociación de Médicos Gallegos), Spain
    Pavel AntonovBluelink Foundation, Bulgaria
    Paolo d’ArgenioTobacco Endgame – Alleanza per un’Italia senza Tabacco, Italy
    George BakhturidzeDirecteur de la Tobacco Control Alliance, Georgia
    Uliana BakhPROI, Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Birgit Beger, Présidente de la Smoke Free Partnership
    Catherine de Bournonville, Coordination Bretonne de Tabacologie (CBT), France
    Pierre Gilbert Bizel, Observatoire Santé de la Province Hainaut, Belgium
    Panagiotis BehrakisGeorge D. Behrakis Research Lab Hellenic Cancer Society, Greece
    Maria Sofia CattaruzzaSITAB, Italy
    Luke ClancyDirecteur de la TobaccoFree Research Institute of Ireland, Republic of Ireland
    Pr Bruno CrestaniFondation du Souffle, France
    Fundacion de Education para la SaludSpain
    Nonguebzanga Maxime CompaoreNorwegian Cancer Society, Norway
    Ketty DelérisInfluenceuse en prévention des addictions, France
    Joanna DidkowskaInstitut national de recherche en oncologie, Poland
    Pascal DiethelmOxySuisse, Switzerland
    Sonja von EichbornUnfairtobacco, BLUE 21, Germany
    Marius EremiaAsociatia Aer Pur Romania, Roumania
    Esteve FernándezCatalan Institute of Oncology, Spain
    Raquel Fernández MeginaPrésidente de Nofumadores.org, Spain
    Silvano GallusIstituto Mario Negri, Italy
    Masha GavrailovaSmoke Free Bulgaria Association, Bulgaria
    Gergana GeshanovaSmoke Free Loife Coalition, Bulgaria
    Nijole Gostautaite MidttunCoalition pour le Contrôle du Tabac et de l’Alcool, Lituania
    Suzanne Gabrielsexperte en lutte contre le tabagisme à la Fondation Belge contre le Cancer, Belgium
    Nicole HassAsociación de pacientes con EPOC, APEPOC, Spain
    Pr. Loïc JosseranPrésident de l’ACT-Alliance contre le Tabac, France
    Danielle Van KalmthoutCoordinatrice à l’Alliance Belge pour une Société sans Tabac, Belgium
    Niels Them KjærDanish Cancer Society, Danemark
    Dmytro KupyraNGO Advocacy Center “Life”, Ukraine
    Arben LilaKosovo Advocacy and Development Centre, Kosovo
    Mihaela LovšeSlovenian Coalition for Public Health, Environment and Tobacco Control, Slovenia
    Pr. Yves MartinetPrésident du Comité National contre le Tabagisme (CNCT), France
    Enkeleint A. Mechili, Université de Vlora, Albania
    Pr. Florin MihaltanRomanian Society of Pneumology, Roumania
    Mark Murphy, Irish Heart Foundation, Republic of Ireland
    Esther Nieto Garcia,FAECAP, Spain
    Martin Petrovski, Institute of Public Health of the Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of North Macedonia
    Krzysztof PrzewozniakSmart Health Foundation, Poland
    Dr. Francisco Rodriguez Lozano, Président de l’ENSP (European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention)
    Luciano RuggiaDirecteur de l’Association suisse pour la prévention du tabagisme, Switzerland
    Christa RustlerGerman Network for Tobacco Free Healthcare Services, Germany
    Ailsa Rutter, Fresh (Making Smoking History), United Kingdom
    Cécile Tonnerre,Tree6clope, France
    Andrés Zamorano,CNPT Comité Nacional para la Prevención del Tabaquismo, Spain
    Witold Antoni ZatońskiInstitute-European Observatory of Health Inequalities, Calisia University, Poland
    Mia Zupančič, Youth Network No Excuse, Slovenia

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