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Indian J Public Health. 2017 Sep;61(Supplement):S35-S39. doi: 10.4103/ijph.IJPH_232_17.

Tobacco industry interference: A review of three South East Asian countries.

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Senior Policy Advisor, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Sydney, Australia.
Executive Director, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Bangkok, Thailand.
Chair of Tobacco Control Unit, Indonesian Public Health Association, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Program Manager, Sustainable Funding for Health Promotion, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Bangkok, Thailand.
Program Manager, Tobacco Industry Denormalization, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Bangkok, Thailand.



The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 5.3 requires governments to protect tobacco control policies from the commercial interest of the tobacco industry (TI). TI interference is the biggest barrier to implementing comprehensive tobacco control measures.


This paper reviews the extent of the TI's interference in tobacco control policy development in three countries, Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia, and the governments' efforts to protect these policies.


The paper draws on incidents of TI interference reported in the 2016 Tobacco Industry Interference Index: ASEAN Report on Implementation of the WHO FCTC Article 5.3. Base data were obtained through a questionnaire on twenty most commonly reported incidents of interference from the FCTC Article 5.3 Guidelines recommendations. A scoring system was developed.


All three countries faced varying levels of TI interference. Thailand, though known for its stringent tobacco control measures, still faced interference while Myanmar remains vulnerable. Indonesia faced the highest industry interference which may explain why it is lagging behind in tobacco control and remains a nonparty to the WHO FCTC. The TI gains access to government officials through offers of technical assistance and its corporate social responsibility activities. Transparency in dealing with the TI is needed in all three countries. Most governments have not set up disclosure procedures when dealing with the TI.


Outside the Department/Ministry of Health, other departments remain unaware of Article 5.3, not utilizing its strength to regulate the TI. More concerted effort is needed to implement Article 5.3 to achieve greater success in tobacco control.

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