By Ronald Kabuye
Tobacco control activists have urged the international Labor Organization (ILO) and Ugandan delegation to the organization to resolve in the favor of cutting financial ties with the tobacco industry in the forthcoming ILO technical meeting exchange views on the development and implementation of an integrated strategy to address decent work deficits in the tobacco sectors scheduled on the 3rd and 4th July this year in Kampala.
Addressing a news conference at Ntinda, the national coordinator of the Uganda Health Communication Alliance UHCA Richard Baguma Tinkasimire said ILO should not renew its partnership with the tobacco industry since it contravenes both international and local laws.
He asserts that the tobacco industry’s interest in the partnership is to improve their public image and to make the Ugandan labor ministry which will benefit from the partnership clash with the ministry of health and civil society organizations as opposed to fighting the use of child labor in the industry thus appealing to them to find real solutions to problems that stifle the ability of tobacco workers to improve their living conditions.
‘‘Corporate social responsibility partnerships are vehicles through which the tobacco industry gains credibility and co-opts government as lobbyists for their interest. The end result is that shareholders and the public remain none the wiser about the true human cost of the activities of tobacco companies, while the tobacco industry continues to influence international law- making and boost its public image’’ said Baguma
Moses Talibita, the legal officer of Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organization (UNHCO) called for a comprehensive strategy developed for tobacco growing communities without the undue influence that comes with any financial ties to the tobacco industry.
He also urged Operation Wealth Creation to take alternative cash crops to the tobacco growing communities and sensitize the public about the dangers of tobacco to people, animals, plants and soils.
It should be noted that this is the fourth time ILO delegations are siting to resolve whether not to renew ties with the tobacco industries or not, in particular the one with Japan Tobacco International that ended in 2018 December and other with the tobacco- funded non profit eliminating child labor in Tobacco growing foundation that ended in June 2018.
Uganda also losses 4 shillings for every 1 shillings it acquires from the tobacco industry in treating Tobacco related diseases and deaths