The adverse health and equity impacts of transnational corporations’ (TNCs) practices have become central public health concerns as TNCs increasingly dominate global trade and investment and shape national economies. Despite this, methodologies have been lacking with which to study the health equity impacts of individual corporations and thus to inform actions to mitigate or reverse negative and increase positive impacts. A new report in Globalization and Health describes a framework designed to conduct corporate health impact assessment (CHIA), that was developed at a meeting held at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in May 2015.
Cigarette packs have long served as portable advertising for tobacco companies, with smokers conveniently disseminating branding and imagery wherever they go, writes Vox Science and Health. Packaging has also long been a central target for health advocates in the global effort to get more people off deadly tobacco products. Last week, the World Health Organization called on countries everywhere to step up the war on tobacco advertising and promotion by introducing plain, or standardized, packaging of tobacco products. Notably, the United States isn’t even close to getting plain packaging on cigarettes anytime soon.
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) stands as a landmark approach to addressing a global health problem. It represents the first time the World Health Organization (WHO) used its constitutional right to negotiate an international law and the first time the Member States of WHO agreed to a collective response to chronic, noncommunicable diseases. This paper draws lessons from the FCTC’s first decade in force and explores what aspects of the FCTC experience can inform future efforts to address other disease epidemics driven by corporate activity, such as alcohol and food. . doi:10.2188/jea.JE20160080
A new study evaluates the reasons for use and acceptance of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) among current and former cigarette smokers to assess if ENDS may become a satisfying alternative to cigarettes. Former smokers (the “Switchers”) report finding ENDS a satisfying alternative to regular cigarettes, with only 15.8% rating ENDS as less enjoyable than regular cigarettes. However, greater than fivefold more current smokers (77.3%) did not find them satisfying and stopped using them. Being less harmful was the most highly rated reason for continuing to use ENDS among “Switchers.” Most (80.9%) “Switchers” reported that ENDS helped them quit cigarettes. Since many current smokers who have tried ENDS reject them as a satisfying alternative to regular cigarettes, ENDS will not replace regular cigarettes unless they improve. Full citation: Pechacek TF, Nayak P, Gregory KR, Weaver SR, Eriksen MP. The Potential That Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Can be a Disruptive Technology: Results From a National Survey. Nicotine Tob Res. 2016 May 3. pii: ntw102.
In presentations on “Changing Corporate Practices to Reduce Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries: A Promising Strategy for Improving Global Public Health?” at Edinburgh University and University of Glasgow, Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at City University of New York School of Public Health, described the role of corporate business and political practices on the growing global burden of non-communicable diseases and injuries. He also analyzed what roles public health professionals can play in countering the adverse health effects of these practices. View the presentation.
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) impose a growing burden on the health, economy, and development of South Africa. According to the World Health Organization, four risk factors, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity, account for a significant proportion of major NCDs. We analyze the role of tobacco, alcohol, and food corporations in promoting NCD risk and unhealthy lifestyles in South Africa and in exacerbating inequities in NCD distribution among populations. Through their business practices such as product design, marketing, retail distribution, and pricing and their business practices such as lobbying, public relations, philanthropy, and sponsored research, national and transnational corporations in South Africa shape the social and physical environments that structure opportunities for NCD risk behavior.
This week Oxford University Press releases a new paperback edition of Lethal but Legal Corporations, Consumption and Protecting Public Health with a new Afterword by the author. An excerpt is below.
New York City, October 2034.
I wrote Lethal but Legal more than 20 years ago because I was worried about humanity’s survival. Growing epidemics of chronic diseases and injuries, escalating environmental damage, increasing concentration of corporate power and wealth, and declining democracy and government protection of health were converging towards a dangerous tipping point. After the book’s release, I had many conversations about these fears with readers, researchers, activists, health professionals and students. What struck me most was that although most agreed that the rise of the corporate consumption complex and its relentless marketing of hyperconsumption threatened public health and democracy, even those persuaded by the book’s arguments were pessimistic that another future was possible. Corporations were too powerful, they said, opposition too weak. Acquiescence was more popular than resistance and any possibility of a real alternative seemed hopelessly naïve.