Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

WHO Tobacco Laboratory Network (TobLabNet)

Participation and Conflict-of-Interest Requirements

Tobacco use is one of the greatest preventable causes of premature death and disease in the world. Therefore, the goals of tobacco control are to reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality through sustained reductions in tobacco use initiation and consumption; to reduce the exposure of non-smokers to harmful tobacco smoke; and to promote denormalization of tobacco use. The tobacco industry has tried to prevent the development of a global strategy to combat tobacco consumption. Consequently, the WHO FCTC warns of the threat posed by the tobacco industry to global tobacco control. The Preamble of the Convention recognizes the need to be alert to industry efforts to subvert tobacco control policies. Further, Article 5(3) obligates parties to the WHO FCTC to protect their public health policies regarding tobacco control from manipulation by the tobacco industry. The WHO FCTC is the only international convention to explicitly address the dangers of an industry subverting the object and purpose of a convention.

For the foregoing reasons, the additional membership criteria below are in order to ensure that the laboratory policy and strategy directions are not compromised. Membership in TobLabNet is ultimately subject to review by the governing body of TobLabNet. These guidelines are subject to annual review and modification by the TobLabNet Steering Committee, which reserves the right to remove from membership any laboratory that the committee deems to have compromised the objectives of the Network.

  • The laboratory should not be totally or partially owned by a tobacco company, however, laboratories that are owned or run by a national government that also owns or runs the national tobacco industry are allowed.
  • Laboratories that receive funds from the tobacco industry in the form of fee-for-service must demonstrate independence from the tobacco industry. For these organizations, a conflict of interest form is required.
  • If a publicly-traded company, the tobacco industry should not have more than 10% share of the total stocks.
  • The laboratory should not have any member of the Board of Directors, or someone in a senior management position, who is employed by a tobacco company, which includes consultancy positions, among others. This also includes non-compensated consulting or advising to a tobacco company that may create a conflict by carrying the promise of future work.
  • The laboratory may have tobacco companies as customers, but not its sole customers.