May 8, 2020
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) joined the public health community in its call to the United Nations (UN) to include the tobacco industry misinformation in the efforts to battle the COVID “misinfodemic.”
The call is embodied in a letter dated April 30, 2020 wherein 52 public health movers from all over the world, wrote to the UN Secretary General António Guterres to call out tobacco industry manipulations to mask the estimated USD 460 billion annual burden it causes to the global healthcare system.
Through the open letter, the global public health community condemned tobacco industry’s role in the spread of health messages that sow confusion such as those that promote smoking or vaping during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tobacco industry, known for undermining scientific evidence and deceiving the public, has reportedly branded itself as part of the solution, maximized visibility of its donations and at the same time, lobbied to deem cigarettes as essential goods despite lockdown restrictions and sought tax privileges for its deadly products.