Fwd: [karmayog] Fighting The Good Fight against Tobacco
- From: karmayog - tanya <info@...>http://lite.epaper.timesofindia.com/getpage.aspx?edlabel=ETM&pubLabel=ET&pageid=23&mydateHid=02-06-2013Fighting The Good Fight
Chitra Subramaniam Duella offers an insiders view of how a few committed men and women at the WHO battled Big Tobacco.Excerpts from an upcoming book:
Simon and Garfunkel was adequate background noise in the office.Or,we would go to the cafeteria at the WHO.Sometimes,we preferred to speak elsewhere.This is your 101 on how the tobacco industry works.Never let your guard down, Roberta said as we walked the dog on a Sunday morning.Their games have no ends and no beginnings and they will stop at nothing. Roberta Walburn was the lead litigator for Robins,Kaplan,Miller and Ciresi in the 1995 settlement between the State of Minnesota,Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and the big tobacco seven.It had represented the Government of India in the Bhopal Gas disaster.Roberta,who had started out as a reporter had worked in India.The case against Union Carbide closed with a $470-million settlement.
Tobacco control was a priority for Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland,the director general (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO).Derek Yach,an epidemiologist and tobacco-control activist from South Africa,set up the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) giving global tobacco control a dimension and power unknown to the WHO.Derek and I worked on a note to the DG suggesting Dr Thomas Zeltner lead an investigation into efforts by the tobacco industry to subvert the WHO.We had worked with Roberta to prepare this note.We used a few examples from Philip Morris and British American Tobacco to make the case.
The Zeltner Committee report in 2000 was a bombshell.Attack the WHO,discredit individuals,subvert their science, it said of the tobacco industrys designs.What would health ministers from 194 countries do TFIs communications team worked 24x7 seamlessly.Emma,Reshma,Helen,Emmanuel in Geneva,Franklin in Copenhagen,Bung-on in Bangkok,Kathy in Washington.None of us,except Franklin,were medical doctors.At the WHO that was tantamount to being ignorant.We were scolded often for being noisy.
Our two-year media campaign,Tobacco Kills Dont be Duped (DBD),was fuelled by the Minnesota documents and funded by Ted Turners UN Foundation.DBD was launched in San Francisco in 1999 by Jeffrey Wigand whose story was told by Michael Mann,Al Pacino and Russell Crowe in the Hollywood film,The Insider.In 1999,two NGO leaders Kathy Mulevy and Emma Must and some of us from TFI created the Framework Convention Alliance to garner civil society support.Communicate,orchestrate,expose,occupy was our song.We had entered the stadium.What next In 2000,the same year,the WHO organised the first public hearings in the history of the United Nations (UN).Everyone,including big tobacco,testified.
Tobacco kills.I hope my children will never smoke, the CEO of one of the big three tobacco companies said after his speech.Franklin and I looked at each other.Slip or spin Speaking to us or to nervous shareholders Is he saying the treaty is good for business in the long-term discounting short-term losses