Canada's First School of Public Health in Bed with Tobacco Industry



    
    Student Group Calls for International Boycott of the University of
    Alberta
    

    TORONTO, Sept. 2 /CNW/ - Canada's first School of public health, located
at the University of Alberta (U of A), was recently found to be in violation
of Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Framework Convention
on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Education - Bringing Youth Tobacco Truths (E-BUTT),
the student group responsible for the University of Toronto's divestment from
tobacco stocks in 2008, has joined global tobacco control groups to help
rehabilitate the U of A.
    E-BUTT, in collaboration with tobacco control groups around the world, is
demanding that Sylvie Stachenko, current U of A dean and former director of
health for the WHO, live up to the WHO's standards for public health.
    Canada ratified the WHO's first global treaty on health, the FCTC, and is
committed to abide by it. This treaty contains guidelines to protect and
promote public health, and serves as a model for safeguarding healthy policy
against corporate conflicts of interest. The public health leaders of 160
ratifying countries unanimously urged keeping the tobacco industry at bay to
prevent it from undermining public health by stating, "There is a fundamental
and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry's interests and
public health policy interests."
    "We are asking Stachenko to publicly state that the School will put
public health interests ahead of financial ones," said Tyler Ward, executive
director of E-BUTT. "It is time to start acting in the best interest of global
public health and stop living off of Big Tobacco's blood money."
    The School has close ties to the tobacco industry, including research
funding, which many believe promote corporate interests over those of public
health. Most recently, the School issued an undisclosed written submission to
the House of Commons' Health Committee regarding Bill C-32 (An Act to Amend
the Tobacco Act) without declaring this relationship. Both the Alberta and
Canadian Medical Association directly oppose ties between public health and
Big Tobacco.
    Numerous groups and key opinion leaders have questioned Stachenko, along
with U of A's president, Dr. Indira Samarasekera, about their failure to
fulfill the mandate of honouring health and education over corporate
interests. The accreditation director of the School, Dr. Collin L. Soskolne,
recently challenged Dr. Samarasekera publicly on this very issue. However, the
U of A has not budged, despite the School's upcoming first accreditation
review, where this issue will be discussed.
    "Out of concern for the health of Canadians, we have contacted the
accreditation board of the U.S.-based Council on Education for Public to
review the School's application," continued Ward. "The ongoing practice of
accepting tobacco funding and putting corporate interests ahead of public
health is completely unacceptable."
    As the U of A and its School of Public Health have failed to adhere to
putting public health and education above financial interests, E-BUTT is
calling for:

    
    -   An immediate and indefinite international boycott of U of A by
        students, applicants, parents and alumni;
    -   U of A and its School of Public Health to be transparent about its
        past and present dealings with the tobacco industry;
    -   Full disclosure of every individual at U of A receiving, or having
        received in the past, tobacco industry funding;
    -   Revealing the name of any U of A officials who act, or have acted, as
        a consultant in any way, shape or form for the tobacco industry;
    -   An end to placing corporate interests ahead of the public health and
        education interests of Canadians. In short, an end to the deception.
    




For further information:

For further information: Tyler Ward, Executive Director, E-BUTT, (416)
912-7079, tylerward.ebutt@gmail.com, www.ebutt.ca

Organization Profile

EDUCATION-BRINGING YOUTH TOBACCO TRUTHS (E-BUTT)

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