The San Francisco Tobacco-Free Coalition & the Global Tobacco Control Movement

The San Francisco Tobacco-Free Coalition (SFTFC) has played a key role in efforts to combat the activities of the Transnational Tobacco Corporations (TNTs) both here and abroad. According to the World Health Organization, by 2030, tobacco related disease will kill over eight million people annually – nearly three million more per year than the number of people it kills today. Most of this increase will occur in developing countries where the tobacco industry has been working hard to open markets to promote its product, especially to women and youth, to ensure its profits. The transnational tobacco companies advertise and market their products in ways long banned in the United States.  In addition to serious health effects, the production of tobacco depletes enough farmland worldwide that it could feed 20 million people.  This gross misuse of arable land also has a serious negative impact on the environment. Fact sheets, updates by country and much, much more.

Early on, the SFTFC recognized that work in San Francisco to combat the activities of the TNTs went hand in hand with global efforts to stop their marketing to youth, women, the poor, and people of color.

The first step the SFTFC took was to hold a forum in 1996 resulting in a policy framework that resulted in a number of important policies including, a policy divesting the SF Employees’ Retirement System of tobacco stocks, and SF Board of Supervisors resolutions that support holding the TNT’s to the same regulatory standards abroad as in the United States.   Over the years, the SFTFC was involved in cosponsoring press conferences on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and others.

Solidarity: The SFTFC also felt that it was important to link communities working in San Francisco with similar communities abroad.  As such, the coalition created a committee, the Global Action Task Force (GATF) that organized three intercambios (educational exchanges) between partners abroad and tobacco control projects in SF.  Partners from Togo, Senegal, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Columbia, India, Thailand, Uganda, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Hong Kong and others participated and worked on joint projects.  Some of the joint actions from these partnerships include: a popular education tobacco control curriculum with Mexico; book covers for Nigerian school children showing how the TNT’s target African American youth in the US and African youth abroad; and most recently,a joint video produced by youth partners in San Francisco and in Vietnam.

The first global health treaty: Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)    

As a member of the Framework Convention Alliance, an organization of non-governmental organizations working towards a world free from the devastating health, social, economic, and environmental consequences of tobacco use and production; the SFTFC was involved in the early stages of the treaty’s development and played a key role in efforts to advocate that the U.S sign and ratify the convention (Stop Global Tobacco postcard).  Critical to this work has been collaboration with others, such as the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health, to ensure that trade agreements include provisions to address tobacco, including exclusion of tobacco from trade agreements due to their harmful effects.  Most recently the SFTFC worked with Supervisor Eric Mar whose letter, published in the San Francisco Chronicle, urged our leaders to ensure that human health is protected and that countries have the right to regulate the TNT’s.