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European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention Newsletter
Special Edition
16 February 2023

Urgent need to support the Republic of Türkiye

The ENSP is deeply concerned about the terrible news coming from Türkiye and Syria and the impact that the earthquake is having on civilians and their health in the affected regions. The Network expresses its full support to the members and colleagues in Türkiye and Syria, their families, and all people affected by this unbelievable tragedy.
The tobacco industry should not in any case take advantage of this unfortunate event and we want to share with you the request received from the ENSP member, the Turkish National Coalition on Tobacco or Health.

Message / Appeal from Dr. Elif Dagli, Turkish National Coalition on Tobacco or Health

The tobacco control community in Türkiye is concerned about the recent corporate social responsibility launch by Philip Morris International, with regard to the earthquakes of February 6, 2023. On February 10th PMI published on their Twitter account a message, both in Turkish and English, regarding their willingness to extend earthquake aid to Türkiye. Then, on February 15th PMI published a second Twitter message, again in Turkish and English, explicating their commitment to participate in the humanitarian assistance and recovery efforts.


Clearly, accepting such donations from PMI or any other tobacco company would constitute a breach of Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the recommendations in its Implementation Guidelines, in particular the Recommendation 6.4. Luckily, a critical news report was readily published about PMI’s past and present corporate social responsibility efforts in times of natural disasters.


The PMI message of February 10th read as follows: “ All our thoughts are with the people in Turkey and Syria affected by the devastating earthquakes.” In a black box, the message also included the following: “ PMI stands in solidarity with our colleagues, their families, and everyone suffering from this disaster. As always our immediate focus is providing support to those who need it most, including facilitating humanitarian assistance and recovery efforts.


The PMI message of February 15th read as follows: “ PMI stands in solidarity with our colleagues, their families, and everyone in Turkey and Syria suffering from the devastating earthquakes. We are committed to supporting humanitarian assistance and recovery efforts.” In a black box, the message also included the following: “ PMI has committed $2 million USD at this stage to support immediate humanitarian aid and long-term recovery assistance through partnerships with relief agencies. Our affiliate in Turkey is providing critical humanitarian supplies in the impacted region, including food and hygiene supplies, temporary shelters equipped with basic necessities, and wheelchairs. Our global employee-led charitable movement -Projects with a Hearth- launched an emergency fundraiser, which has already helped 1,720 families with urgent needs. PMI is matching all employee donations.


Similar contributions from PMI and other tobacco companies since the formal adoption of the FCTC in 2004, as elucidated below: 

  1. PMI’s charitable contributions declaration of 2011 included two separate donations made in the form of housing relief for the victims of the Van Erciş earthquake in that year, first in the amount of USD 100,000 for the housing project of 15 families, and secondly in the amount of USD 400,000 for the housing project of 60 families. News reports of the time criticized the fact that the said container settlement in Erciş served as a means of advertisement for Philip Morris and the streets in between the container houses were named after the partnering donor of PMI.
  2. PMI’s charitable social declaration of 2020 included a disaster relief donation made in the amount of USD 700,000 as a contribution towards the COVID-19 emergency fund. This donation, expressed as TL 4.724.720 TL, together with another donation made by JTI in the amount of TL 1,255,000, have been acknowledged by the government as accepted donations for the said purpose.

Time to stand against the tobacco industry's interference

We are concerned about the potential impact of accepting the said USD 2 million and any other contributions from other tobacco companies. At this time when PMI and others are conducting an intensive campaign to legalize the sales and marketing, as well as probably their manufacturing, of novel tobacco and nicotine products in the Turkish market.

ENSP appeals to the international community to support Türkiye in these unfortunate moments so that the tobacco industry's money is not needed. Once again, our international solidarity proves to be immensely valuable in such dire times. We seek your help and assistance to stop this insolent move by the industry and to persuade and encourage the decision-makers to openly refuse any donation coming from the tobacco industry based on their legal commitments enshrined in the FCTC.

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