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EMF Studies

15 November 2012

Cigarettes are Effective Weapons

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
On 23 September 2012, two out of three Swiss voters rejected the Lung League’s initiative for a uniform nationwide law banning smoking in indoor working places. Cantons, however, are allowed to state exceptions. An estimated 10,000 people working in the restaurant sector face serious health risks from second-hand smoke. Now, there is outrage over donations made by Japanese Tobacco International to the Geneva-based International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and to the Geneva Red Cross. Ties with firms whose activities include the sale or manufacture of weapons, alcohol, tobacco, or products that are clearly identified as harmful to the environment are strictly forbidden under Red Cross regulations. With Philip Morris based in Lausanne, the tobacco lobby is strong in Switzerland. Japan Tobacco International’s headquarters are located in Geneva. Is there no integrity regarding the source of donations to non-profit associations like the Red Cross?  It is similar to companies making products full of toxic substances and polluting the environment contributing to national cancer societies.

One reader of the Tribune de Genève, Chloé Peytermann, contributed this comment to the newspaper:

Cigarettes are weapons

“Regarding the support of Japan Tobacco International (JTI) to the Geneva Red Cross, Mr. Guy Mettan [President of the Geneva Red Cross] says he does not at all see ‘discriminating against a perfectly legitimate company which has a name and an address, which is completely respectable and employs hundreds of persons in Geneva. It’s not a producer of cannons!” I’m sorry to inform him that cigarettes are more effective weapons than cannons. “Cigarettes. First of all, the figures. Huge figures. Each year, cigarettes kill more persons than malaria, more than AIDS, more than wars, more than terrorism…” (texte from Le Monde). It seems shocking that a person leading an organization whose ethics are a daily struggle, is trafficking the image that tobacco companies wish to give : the image of good, “respectable”. No! To sell a product, as legal as it is, which leads one out of three consumers to the grave, is not “respectable”. If each person were questioned about his profession, regarding the impacts of deceitful communication campaigns conducted by these companies, their strategies of obstruction and infiltration of the health sector, maybe things would be different. Have the employees of JTI spent a day in an oncology unit to see the fruit of their labor?”

Outrage over tobacco funds for Red Cross 
Swissinfo.ch, 10 November 2012

Campaigners are fuming over donations made by Japanese Tobacco International (JTI) to the Geneva-based International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and to the Geneva Red Cross. Red Cross officials, however, downplay the controversy.

According to the Tribune de Genève newspaper, the European Respiratory Society, the World Heart Federation, local anti-smoking associations Cipret and OxyRomandie and representatives from Lausanne University have sent letters of protest to the museum urging them to end a partnership with JTI.

They claim that one of the fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – to protect life and health and respect human beings - has been violated by accepting an undisclosed financial donation from the manufacturer of Camel and Winston cigarettes.

“[Red Cross founder] Henri Dunant must be turning in his grave,” said Cipret President Jean-Luc Forni.

Since their first letter sent to the museum in July, a reference to the partnership has reportedly disappeared from the JTI website.

The firm however confirmed to Tribune de Genève that the “JTI Foundation has supported the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum on several occasions in 2011”.

Museum Director Roger Mayou confirmed that the support consisted of a donation, “among dozens of others”, towards the extension and transformation of the building, which is located next to the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva.

The museum closed last year for major building work – SFr13million budget funded by private donors and Geneva city authorities - and is due to re-open in 2013.

Mayou said he was surprised by the campaigners’ reactions and added that the foundation board was considering what steps to take regarding the letters. The partnership with JTI continues for the moment, however.

Red Cross guidelines

OxyRomandie President Pascal Diethelm declared that, in line with World Health Organization (WHO) accords signed by Switzerland, sponsorship of community or health organisations by the tobacco industry should be banned.

JTI’s support is also contrary to internal health-related Red Cross guidelines governing partnerships with the private sector, he added.

Article 23 of Red Cross regulations concerning the use of the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblems by national societies states that any ties with firms whose activities include the sale or manufacture of weapons, alcohol, tobacco, or products that are clearly identified as harmful to the environment should be avoided.

The Geneva Red Cross has also reportedly received donations from JTI. Geneva Red Cross President Guy Mettan felt the donations it received from JTI were valid, however. He did not understand why a "perfectly legitimate firm" was being discriminated against.

“After all it’s not an arms manufacturer,” he told the Tribune de Genève. “This is all a poor trial. The Red Cross doesn’t make any distinction between its donors. All humans are equal; that’s exactly what Henri Dunant said.”


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