Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control
A program of Essential Action

Essential Action launched Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control (GPTC) at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in 2000, to help support and strengthen international tobacco control activities at the grass roots level. The program links groups in the United States and Canada with groups in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Central/Eastern Europe, and assists them in initiating meaningful shared activities. There are currently more than 360 groups in 100 countries and 40 U.S. states involved in the program - including advocacy organizations, youth empowerment programs, local public health agencies, & consumer rights groups.

What is a "Global Partnership"?

No two organizations are alike. Likewise, no two partnerships are alike. In the past three years, Essential Action has assisted groups in forming a wide array of global partnerships, each suited to the specific needs and interests of the groups involved. Some groups have embraced long-term one-to-one partnerships. Others have preferred networking with several organizations that share a common geographic location and/or interest area. Yet other groups have collaborated with many tobacco control advocates simultaneously on a specific short-term project. In general, global partnerships are expected to be egalitarian, action-oriented, and resourceful in nature.

How are groups matched?

Essential Action partners groups according to their organization type, current activities, project interests, target populations, language skills, and geographic location, keeping in mind the preferences emphasized by groups on their sign up forms or in follow up correspondence. Our experience indicates that similar interests, language skills, and levels of enthusiasm are particularly important "ingredients" for successful partnerships. Having a specific reason for wanting to work with a group in another country is also key.

What do partner groups do?

The partners set their own agenda, so the exact partnership activities vary widely. Here are a few examples of activities that global partners have engaged in:

· Tracking Big Tobacco's Global Trail. A statewide youth empowerment program in the U.S. worked with groups around the world to gather examples of Big Tobacco's outrageous marketing practices abroad. The project culminated in a statewide summit at which U.S. youth exposed tobacco corporations' global trail of manipulation and deceit and issued guidelines to the global tobacco industry. The Spanish-language Telemundo TV network aired an extensive segment on the summit.

· De-linking Tobacco & Movies. A Nigerian journalist group reported on a British American Tobacco promotional campaign that featured five Hollywood films for a statewide youth empowerment program involved in a "tobacco and movies" project. The two groups subsequently co-sponsored a successful international fax campaign, which resulted in Warner Bros pledging to contribute a portion of the money it received from BAT to Nigerian tobacco control groups.

· Holding Big Tobacco Accountable. In April 2005, over 100 youth and adult tobacco control advocates from across the U.S. and around the world (India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Thailand) converged in East Hanover, New Jersey for Altria's Annual Meeting of Stockholders. Inside, GPTC participants confronted CEO Louis Camilleri about the company's conduct worldwide. Outside, a spirited demonstration marked the 50th anniversary of Marlboro and Philip Morris's global expansion with black balloons, a "Happy 50th Deathday" cake, and a 15-foot-high Marlboro pack labeled "50 Yrs of Death."

· Sharing Resources. U.S. groups have sent letters to U.S. embassies asking for permission to send used computers to their global partners via embassy mail pouch. So far, used computers have been sent to Senegal and Cameroon this way, and several other U.S. embassies have indicated interest in supporting tobacco control efforts in their host countries.

Why are international partnerships so important?

The tobacco industry knows no national borders, and neither must tobacco control advocates if they are to effectively address the global epidemic of tobacco-related death and disease. By developing stronger bonds of solidarity between groups in different countries, the international tobacco control movement will be better able to challenge the tobacco industry at the local, national, and international levels.

The Global Partnerships program provides mutual benefits to partner groups. In particular, the partnerships help groups to frame tobacco control issues in an international context and to share information and advice across borders. In addition, they provide an advocacy partner abroad, a feeling of greater connectedness to the global tobacco control movement, and access to resources. The partnerships also help U.S. groups monitor Philip Morris' international marketing practices, as well as reach out to increasingly diverse local populations.


In addition to individual partnership projects, Essential Action encourages groups to take part in collective activities and action campaigns.

Each month we collect information from around the world on a particular tobacco control topic, e.g. the tobacco industry's latest marketing strategies, tobacco's global toll, the cost of a pack of Marlboros in relation to staple food items. The examples have proven useful for reporters and others seeking information on international tobacco issues, e.g. "Big Tobacco Is Accused of Crossing an Age Line," by Greg Winter, New York Times (August 24, 2001)

Periodically, GPTC groups send us action alerts related to tobacco industry activities in their country, and we mobilize international letter-writing campaigns around them. Some examples: tobacco industry sponsored "youth smoking prevention" programs (Turkey), privatization of state tobacco monopolies (Thailand), and the use of Hollywood movies in a BAT promotional campaign (Nigeria). In 2001, letters from GPTC participants convinced nearly 20 researchers to cut their ties to Philip Morris' External Research Program!

Tracking and Responding to New Tobacco Industry Initiatives · Exchanging Tobacco Control Materials & Strategies Across Borders · De-normalizing Tobacco Industry Sponsorship (e.g. Research, "Youth Smoking Prevention") · Movies & Tobacco Glamour · Trade and Tobacco · Community - Based Research · Smoke-free Policies & Legislation · Women & Tobacco · Media Advocacy · Website Development · World No Tobacco Day Solidarity Actions · "Licensed to Kill, Inc"

If your group is interested in becoming involved with Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control, send an email to [email protected] to request a sign up form. You may also download the sign up form: Word, PDF

Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control
Essential Action
P.O. Box 19405, Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1 202-387-8030 ~ Fax: +1 202-234-5176
[email protected]