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Public health up in smoke: Big tobacco returns to Burma

IN July 2013, British American Tobacco (BAT) announced it would be returning to Burma (Myanmar). The company had withdrawn from the domestic market a decade earlier, following criticism by human rights groups, non‐governmental organisations and the UK Government of its commercial links to the country’s military regime. Prior to selling its 60 per cent share of the Burma operation in November 2003, BAT officials argued that the company could not be held accountable for the host government’s human rights record, and cited its ostensible contributions to health, education and other causes. The return of BAT and a number of other western companies to Burma has been facilitated by recent reforms to the country’s political, economic, and social systems. SEE ALSO: ‘Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are keeping people hooked These reforms include the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the National League for Democracy’s 2015 general election victory, and discussions with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank on economic direction. Among other reforms, they have been sufficient indication of rehabilitation for western governments to lift or suspend sanctions that had been put in place against the military regime. BAT, Coca‐Cola, Kirin, Heineken and other companies whose products are linked to the global rise of non-communicable diseases have been among leading investors, raising significant concerns around the potential impact of their operations for the local population. A casino sells cigarettes and alcohol on the Burma-Thai border on 18 June 2018. Source: Somrerk Witthayanant / Shutterstock It is also apparent that the domestic political situation has changed less than has been widely perceived or hoped for. The military retains extensive influence and power, and the “hybrid regime” that has emerged from the reform process is neither wholly democratic nor wholly authoritarian. Many restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly remain. Together with the... If you wish to read this full breaking news headline, plus more articles from around Thailand and Asia like, Public health up in smoke: Big tobacco returns to Burma, simply click on 'Read full story' below, but 1st please give us a 'LIKE' or 'SHARE' before you leave. Thank you Public health up in smoke: Big tobacco returns to Burma

 

 

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Published By: ASIAN CORRESPONDENT - Tuesday, 26 June, 2018

 

 

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