How Colombia resisted Big Tobacco and implemented strong advertising restrictions and health warning labels

Randy Uang, Eric Crosbie, and I just published Tobacco control law implementation in a middle-income country: Transnational tobacco control network overcoming tobacco industry opposition in Colombia in Global Public Health  This paper shows how, with strategic assistance from the global tobacco control community, Colombia was able to defend and implement strong legislation restricting advertising, promotion, and sponsorship as well as strong health warning labels, consistent with the FCTC.
 
This is a companion paper to the one were recently published on how health advocates secured implementation of the law’s smokefree provisions, which is available here.  Interestingly, the industry fought much harder against the ad ban and warning labels than they did the smokefree provisions, perhaps because the smokefree provisions, while strong, did not break new ground in the region, whereas the other provisions did.
 
Here is the abstract of the new paper:
 
The objective of this paper is to examine the implementation of Colombia’s tobacco control law. Methods involved are triangulated government legislation, news sources, and interviews with policymakers and health advocates in Colombia. Colombia, a middle-income country, passed a tobacco control law in 2009 that included a prohibition on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship; and required pictorial health warning labels, ingredients disclosure, and a prohibition on individual cigarette sales. Tobacco companies challenged the implementation through litigation, tested government enforcement of advertising provisions and regulations on ingredients disclosure, and lobbied local governments to deprioritise policy
responses to single cigarette sales. A transnational network including international health groups and funders helped strengthen domestic capacity to implement the law by; promoting public awareness of Ley [Law] 1335; training local health department staff on enforcement; facilitating health agencies’ sharing of educational strategies; and providing legal defence assistance. This network included vigilant efforts by local health groups, which continuously monitored and alerted the media to noncompliance, engaged government officials and policy-makers on implementation, and raised public awareness. Support from international health NGOs and funders and continuous engagement by local health groups enhanced implementation capacities to counter continued tobacco industry.
 
The paper is also available in Spanish here (which is also a supplemental file available with the English version of the paper here).  Here is the abstract in Spanish:
 
 El objetivo de este artículo es examinar la implementación de la ley colombiana de control del tabaco. La metodología incluyó la triangulación de legislación gubernamental, fuentes de noticias y entrevistas con legisladores y defensores de la salud en Colombia. Colombia, un país de ingresos medios, aprobó una ley de control del tabaco en 2009, que incluye la prohibición de publicidad, promoción y patrocinio del tabaco, y requirió etiquetas advertencias sanitarias pictoriales, la divulgación de ingredientes y la prohibición de la venta de cigarrillos sueltos. Las compañías de tabaco desafiaron la implementación a través de litigios, pusieron a prueba la aplicación gubernamental de las disposiciones sobre publicidad, las regulaciones sobre la divulgación de los ingredientes y presionaron a los gobiernos locales para reducir la prioridad de los esfuerzos sobre la venta de cigarrillos sueltos. Una red transnacional que incluyó grupos de salud y financiadores internacionales ayudó a fortalecer la capacidad local para implementar la ley promoviendo la conciencia pública sobre la Ley 1335, capacitando a personal local del departamento de salud sobre cumplimiento, facilitando el intercambio de estrategias educativas y ofreciendo asistencia legal para implementar varias disposiciones de la ley. Esta red también incluyó esfuerzos vigilantes de grupos locales de salud, que continuamente monitorearon y alertaron a los medios de comunicación sobre el incumplimiento, involucraron a funcionarios gubernamentales y políticos en la implementación de la Ley 1335, y aumentaron la conciencia pública a través de campañas en los medios. El apoyo de las ONGs internacionales de salud y los donantes y el compromiso continuo de los grupos locales de salud aumentaron la capacidad de implementación para contrarrestar la interferencia continua de la industria tabacalera y asegurar la implementación efectiva del control del tabaco en este país de ingresos medios.
 
The full citation for the paper is Randy Uang, Eric Crosbie & Stanton A. Glantz.  Tobacco control law implementation in a middle-income country: Transnational tobacco control network overcoming tobacco industry opposition in Colombia. Global Publid Health Published online 17 Aug 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2017.1357188