The reaction against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s advocacy for the global tobacco industry is growing, first reported last week in the New York Times.
Today, the Times reported that CVS Health Corporation announced that it is quitting the U.S. Chamber because of their work around the world in fighting restrictions on tobacco and smoking. This follows CVS’s major step last year discontinuing tobacco product sales in all its stores. Double hurray for CVS!
We are still waiting to see whether Boston’s Steward Health Care System and its CEO Ralph de la Torre, will turn their words into action. Last week, a Steward spokesperson said: “If the chamber is in fact advocating for increased smoking, we do not agree with them on this public health issue.” Now that the Chamber’s advocacy is clear, it’s time to go beyond words — as Paul Levy makes clear.
The flak against the Chamber is going global, as Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, made clear this week:
“By lobbying against well-established, widely accepted and evidence-based tobacco control public health policies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce undermines its own credibility on other issues … So long as tobacco companies continue to be influential members of the chamber, legitimate businesses will be tarred with the same brush.”
The Chamber is feeling the heat and beginning to lash out against those taking them to task for the deathly advocacy. Here’s part of their recent statement: “It’s unfortunate that a concerted misinformation campaign about the U.S. Chamber’s position on smoking has resulted in a company leaving our organization.”
If the Chamber wants any legitimacy on this issue, step number one — come clean on how much money you have taken from tobacco companies over the past 20 years. Put it all on the table without delay. Otherwise — you have no credibility.