Tobacco control in the Czech Republic

Two of the largest tobacco companies in the world are actively weakened the tobacco-control policies in the Czech Republic over the past two decades, researchers from the Department of Health have found.

Tobacco Control Research Group of the University has found this intervention British American Tobacco and Philip Morris to influence the tobacco tax policy, which is one of the most effective ways of reducing tobacco consumption. They found that the corporation cooperated with the broader interests of the tobacco to keep low taxes on tobacco and tobacco lobbying competitive tax structures that will promote their brands. They also found evidence that Philip Morris is ignored, turned over and attempts to weaken the Czech policy to restrict tobacco advertising, promotion of voluntary restrictions as an alternative to binding legislation.

The study comes from the first study to investigate the influence of the tobacco industry in the Czech Republic, which was published in PLoS Medicine this week. The results show that the major tobacco companies have been quick to enter the Czech market in tobacco, in accordance with the decision on the privatization of state-controlled tobacco interests in the early 1990s, and immediately worked to shape policy in their favor. The study, led by Risako Shirane, and Professor Anna Gilmore in the bathroom, on the basis of an analysis of internal tobacco company documents (released in the courts in the U.S.) and key informant interviews.

The first author of the article, Risako Shirane said: “The excise policy, perhaps one of the most complex and least understood areas of tobacco control, and it makes the policy are particularly susceptible to the influence of the tobacco industry. “Our study is based on the wealth of previous research showing that tobacco companies are primarily due to the desire to increase profits, which means that their ability to influence policy usually has devastating consequences for public health.” According to the World Health Organization, smoking causes approximately 18,000 premature deaths a year – up to 50 deaths a day – in the Czech Republic. Overall, 26 percent of all male deaths and 10 percent of all deaths in women are associated with tobacco use.

Tobacco control remains very weak in the Czech Republic, with policy in the country in recent times finishing fourth least efficient in Europe. The Czech Republic is also the only European Union state has not approved that the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – widely accepted international treaty, which defines the specific steps for governments to curb tobacco consumption. Cigarettes are becoming more available in the Czech Republic since 1991, while cigarette sales remain high, without a strong policy on tobacco control. Dr. Hana Ross, American Cancer Society conducted a key informant interviews, which confirmed the findings and suggested that the policy of intervention by the tobacco companies is taking place in the Czech Republic, tobacco companies continue to enjoy a high level of political support.

Lead researcher, Professor Gilmore, said the results indicate that officials in the Czech Republic need to work harder to ensure that policies on tobacco control has informed independent advice and are protected from undue interference by the tobacco industry.

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