Tobacco Industry Uses Child Labour in Tanzania

Add Tanzania to the list of countries where child labour is used in the harvesting of tobacco. Article by Ludovick Kazoka in Tanzania Daily News: Combating child labour in tobacco areas

Excerpt: "These children work long hours without rest or food, endure extreme weather without appropriate gear, carry heavy loads that can affect their growth, face exposure to harmful agrochemicals, and do not have time to go school. On average, they work 8 to 12 hours per day."

Airspace Occupies Victoria and BCIMC

Airspace President Errol Povah and Philip Morris International CEO Lou Camilleri made a trip to Victoria on November 10 to participate in Occupy Victoria and draw attention to the British Columbia Investment  Management Corporation's continued investment in the tobacco industry. They walked from the Occupation at Centennial Park to the BCIMC offices. A transcript of Camilleri's speech appears below the fold.

Watch live streaming video from paov at livestream.com

Read more: Airspace Occupies Victoria and BCIMC

Alberta Moves to Dump Tobacco Shares

Article by Justina Reichel in the Epoch Times: Alberta Moves to Dump Tobacco Shares

The story is that the Alberta Investment Management Corp. has sold $17.5 million in directly managed stock held by public-sector pension funds and the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund.It also says that this amount is small compared to the $346 million worth of tobacco industry stock held by the BC Investment Management Corporation (BCIMC).

It says in BCIMC's website that "bcIMC is accountable for the corporate governance and environmental and social responsibility activities that we undertake on behalf of our clients." Accountable to whom? In 2008, when Minister of Finance Carole Taylor was questioned about the wisdom of investing BC pension funds in tobacco company, her response was that BCIMC's directors are prohibited from taking direction from government.

In addition to investing in tobacco companies, BCIMC's managers also vote proxies when the annual meetings of those companies come around. They have used these votes to vote against shareholder efforts to require the companies to adopt higher standards of social responsibility. They voted for a resolution that would permit Imperial Tobacco to make donations to political parties. They voted for management-approved candidates for directors, several of whom were involved with Altria and Philip Morris International during the period that these companies were involved in racketeering.

Altria also gave money to candidates in 45 US states (including current presidential candidate Rick Perry), and Philip Morris International gave money to the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. Is it appropriate for the Government of British Columbia to be a party to this?

Tobacco industry uses slave labour in North Carolina

Article by Kenneth Quinnell at Crooks and Liars: Tobacco Laborers Denied  Basic Human Rights in the U.S. 

Includes this video:

Excerpt: "The report [by Oxfam and Farm Labor Organizing  Committee], 'A State of Fear,' shows that one in four tobacco farm workers  is paid less than the federal minimum wage. Many suffer from nicotine  poisoning after absorbing nicotine through their bare skin." Link to Oxfam report

An excellent comment: "I'll bet those workers only have  $400,000 after feeding their families and paying all their expenses, too.  What kind of life is that?"

Similar article by by Laura Clawson at Daily Kos: NC tobacco workers face below-minimum wages and abusive working and living conditions. Lots of good comments.

Incinerator industry uses tobacco lobbyist

On Tuesday, July 26, 2011 (at about 4:45 p.m.) -- with guest host Jill Bennett on CKNW's The World Today -- the topic was Metro Vancouver's Solid Waste Plan... specifically, the incineration idea. Bennett's guest was Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gates who, along with all Fraser Valley Regional District directors, strongly opposes incineration. Here are a couple of her more interesting (i.e., tobacco-related) quotes:

"We don't like breathing anyone's second-hand smoke!" and, in response to a caller who asked, "Is there a profit margin involved with the incinerator?", Gates' response was, "Oh my gosh, yes! Absolutely! The incinerator is a huge business for incineration companies... and the people that Metro brought in to try to sell us on it were actually people who've built and used incinerators. Of course, they also used a tobacco lobbyist; we know that. It was highly discredited; their studies for us..."

The 2011 Federal Election

There are a lot of things going on in this country that should be issues in this election: Fisheries and Oceans Canada's support for fish farms, the tar sands, and pipelines, to name three. With an annual death toll of 45,000 Canadians, tobacco should be a major topic of discussion, too.

We had a situation just five months ago where Health Canada was scrapping a plan to increase the size of warning labels on cigarettes as a result of lobbying from the tobacco industry. Read about it here: Conservative Federal Government owned by tobacco industry.

As a result of the exposure of the tobacco industry's involvement in this, the Harper Government changed its mind and went ahead with a a policy that was under development for six years. This is a old problem, however. Not long ago, it was common for tobacco industry spokespeople to say that the tobacco industry is a "partner" with Federal and provincial goverments, as part of complaining about taxation of tobacco. This is silly nonsense; automobiles, for example, are taxed heavily, but you don't hear auto industry lobbyists using language like this.

The Harper Government certainly didn't invent the idea that the tobacco industry is a "stakeholder" on tobacco industry issues; when Paul Martin was Prime Minister, the tobacco industry was much more than a stakeholder. The "stakeholder" idea is one that should be discarded. If you're asked by anyone during the few days left until the election to vote for a certain candidate, this would be a good topic to bring up.

One of the pillars of the Conservative campaign is "tough on crime"; longer prison sentences, building more prisons, that sort of thing. The Harper Government has also talked about the crime of tobacco smuggling, but they quietly adopted a policy of of prison sentences only for repeat offenders. In other words, the Harper Government is "tough on crime" except when it involves tobacco. Again, a good question to ask Conservative candidates about.

Read more: The 2011 Federal Election

Auntie Tobacco on the 2011 Federal Election

An election message from Auntie Tobacco at www.combatobacco.org:

A vote for Christy Clark is a vote for Big Tobacco

The poster-woman for the anti-bullying campaign -- former Deputy Premier, former CKNW talk show host, and now Premier wannabe Christy Clark -- isn't quite as anti-bullying as she would have everyone believe.

The ads for the local anti-bullying campaign's biggest event, Pink Shirt Day (Wed, Feb. 23), state "Bullying takes many forms." A few examples are schoolyard bullying, workplace bullying, and cyber- bullying. There are countless invalid excuses for it – age, gender, race, religion, colour, creed, politics, sexual orientation, etc.

The ugliest and deadliest form of bullying by far is the corporate kind. And the ugliest of the ugly is the tobacco industry. Big Tobacco is directly responsible for more disease, disability, premature death, preventable fires, and litter than anything else. It is also a significant cause of major environmental degradation. Twelve to thirteen percent of trees cut down worldwide are used for tobacco production. Many of these are clear-cut for farming and used to make packaging, but mostly they're just burned to cure tobacco.

Read more: A vote for Christy Clark is a vote for Big Tobacco

Decision on human-rights complaint regarding smoking in nonprofit housing stalled

Article by Carlito Pablo in the Georgia Straight: Decision on human-rights complaint regarding smoking in nonprofit housing stalled

Rose Marie Borutski's site: Canadian PUSH for Smoke-free Housing

Conservative Federal Government owned by tobacco industry

Proposed package warning featuring Barb Tarbox

Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq told reporters last week that the Federal government is "not in bed with big tobacco."

Now, why would anyone think such a thing?

Probably because Ms. Aglukkaq's ministry spent $3.6 million over the past six years on an effort to put larger (75% of the package area instead of 50%) and more graphic warnings on cigarette packages. Then, in late Spetember, 2010, Health Canada abruptly announced at a closed-door meeting that it was suspending the project.

No explanation was given at the time. There wasn't really any need for one. Health Canada had 53 meetings with lobbyists for Imperial Tobacco Canada, JTI-Macdonald Corp. and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges. They also met with lobbyists for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce 27times on this issue.

The tobacco industry's lobbyists included:

  • Duncan Rayner, former director of operations for the Conservative Party of Canada
  • Ezra Levant, former Conservative insider and professional liar
  • Eric Duhaime, a former adviser to Stockwell Day
  • Mark Spiro, Conservative insider

Perrin Beatty, a health minister in the Mulroney government, is President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and a lobbyist for that organization.

Ms. Aglukkaq said that Health Canada would concentrate their resources on contraband cigarettes, a move that the tobacco industry and one of their long-term proxies, convenience store owners, have lobbied for.

Story from CBC News: Tobacco lobbying preceded label retreat

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