Earlier this year Tel Aviv University’s School of Marketing, under pressure from the Israel Cancer Association, canceled an event sponsored by Philip Morris International.
Unfortunately, victories like this for public health are few and far between. The tobacco industry continues to use corporate social responsibility (CSR) to market its deadly products. These schemes range from youth smoking and prevention initiatives to education funding to health initiatives, and they are all designed to secure a positive impression of tobacco companies within their target consumer demographics.
Tobacco CSR is not “business as usual”
British American Tobacco (BAT) writes that “a Central part of being a sustainable business is operating with integrity and responsibility.” Interestingly enough, BAT, along with Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, count themselves among the current members of the Institute of Business Ethics).
Yet, as the World Health Organization has stated time and time again, there is an “inherent contradiction” between the tobacco industry and corporate responsibility.
Tobacco industry practices directly contradict real sustainable CSR programs. And tobacco corporations should not be included in any responsible business ethics entity.
This year ASH presented a letter to the American Red Cross urging them to discontinue their practice of accepting funding from the tobacco industry.
Civil society action can be a powerful tool as the Tel Aviv University event proves. That is why we will continue identifying NGOs, Universities, and other “responsible” public entities who give tobacco companies good PR by accepting their donations, and we will continue encouraging them to stop doing so.
Take Action with US
We encourage you to be a responsible supporter and find out if the organizations or universities you support receive tobacco money. We also ask that you help ASH by sharing your findings with us on Twitter! Tweet your findings to us using the hashtag #stoptobaccotactics.