JTI Calls For Dialogue

Japan Tobacco International says that new European research shows that policies based on evidence and dialogue are needed to restore public trust in policy-making.

The company¡¯s comments, posted on its website yesterday, follow the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the World Health Organization¡¯s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which was held in Geneva last week.

JTI said that new research it had commissioned had revealed that the public wanted regulators to be open to dialogue with business, and that more fairness and credible evidence was needed in policy-making.

The research, conducted in Europe by Populus with Ipsos as fieldwork provider, found that of the 8,473 respondents surveyed across eight European countries, an average of:

* ¡¯72 percent believed that it is either very important or somewhat important that the policy-making process is open to dialogue between governmental authorities and all parties who are potentially impacted by it, including businesses;

* ¡¯79 percent believed that it is either very important or somewhat important that a policy should be introduced based on credible evidence of its effectiveness, instead of a biased assumption it will work.

* ¡¯76 percent would protect the principle of free speech; either actively fighting for the right of someone they disagree with to speak, or passively agreeing with someone they disagree with¡¯s right to express their opinion.¡¯

JTI said that proceedings at the FCTC COP¡¯s ¡®echo chamber¡¯ differed hugely from those of other UN decision-making bodies such at the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] on Climate Change, where businesses were an integral part of discussions, and plenary sessions were public.

¡®Today¡¯s new research shows that the public want politicians and officials to consider all the facts and viewpoints ¨C including from businesses,¡¯ it said. ¡®Ousting one group of companies from giving their views and sharing their expertise contradicts basic democratic principles and is counterproductive.

¡®The same can be said of discussions on harm reduction at COP8 last week. Thanks to innovation and advances in science, JTI offers products that have the potential to reduce risks associated with smoking and the company would have been well placed to take part in those discussions. Yet, it appears that the FCTC COP still has an obsolete conception of tobacco companies.¡¯

Jonathan Duce, head of external communications at JTI¡¯s global headquarters in Geneva, was quoted as saying that the public were right that all views must be heard.

¡°The FCTC COP would have been wise to follow their advice last week, because governments can only make good decisions once they have taken everyone¡¯s views into account,¡± he said. ¡°The findings of this research are clear: more must be done by governments around the world to restore public confidence in the regulators who make the rules we all abide by. This research has shone a light on what citizens expect from decision making and shows that people only want policies if they are supported by credible evidence and proven to be effective.¡±  Enditem