25 Oct 2013 at 11:23 AM
Honourable Prime Minister,
Setting up of tobacco manufacturing plant in the free port of Mauritius
Please refer to my e-mails dated 26 June 2013 and 17 July 2013 on the above subject.
I wish to inform you that on 15 October 2013 I received a reply from the Ministry of Agro-Industry, copy of which is herewith attached. From the content of the mail, I am inclined to believe that the Ministry of Agro-Industry is in favour of setting up the tobacco manufacturing plant in the free port of Mauritius.
VISA strongly protests against the stand of the Ministry of Agro-Industry as it is based purely on legal grounds without due consideration to the following issues raised in my previous mails:
– tobacco is a lethal product which kills more than half of its users and 6 million people annually;
– the tobacco plant will increase consumption of tobacco products in Mauritius;
– it will exacerbate tobacco-related suffering and deaths in Africa which is already faced with the double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases;
– it will serve as cover up for illicit trade of tobacco products;
-it violates the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization (WHO-FCTC) which was ratified by Mauritius in 2004; and
– it violates the United Nations Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.
Furthermore, VISA views with concern that the Ministry of Agro-Industry has been totally insensitive to the appeal made against the project by the 237 organizations from around the world which signed the two petitions submitted to you.
Honourable Prime Minister, Mauritius is often looked upon and cited as a model for tobacco control in Africa and the world. Authorizing the tobacco plant to operate in our free port will be viewed as a change in government’s policy on tobacco control and harm the image of Mauritius. Furthermore, the adverse effects of setting up the plant far outweigh its benefits. VISA strongly believes that tobacco control is good public policy which helps to mitigate the health, social, economic and environmental consequences of tobacco use and harness the increasing tide of non-communicable diseases in Mauritius and the African continent in general. Government should not promote a product that kills more than AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, road accidents, suicide and murder taken together.
In view of the above, VISA appeals to you not to approve the stand of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and the setting up of the tobacco manufacturing plant in the free port of Mauritius.
In the meantime, VISA will continue to mobilize public opinion and international organizations, including the World Health Organization, against the project.