Unfairtobacco is a project of the Berlin Working Group on Environment and Development (Blue 21 e.V.) since 2004.
We expose how the tobacco industry harms farmers, consumers and the environment. We show how the negative effects of tobacco cultivation and of the production, marketing and consumption of tobacco and nicotine products can be countered.
Our Goal: A tobacco-free world
We are committed to a profound change towards a tobacco-free world.
For us, this means a world in which tobacco consumption is reduced to a meaningless level and in which commercial tobacco cultivation no longer exists.
We advocate for the respect of human rights. Because tobacco cultivation and consumption violate the right to health, the right to education, the right to life and the right to a healthy environment, to name but a few.
We are committed to the implementation of children’s rights. For tobacco cultivation violates children’s rights to health, education, leisure and protection from economic exploitation. Tobacco consumption violates children’s rights to life and development, health and protection from addictive substances.
We support the fulfilment of women’s rights. Because it is difficult for women smallholders to earn a living from tobacco and the time-intensive tobacco cultivation poses a high health burden for women. Female bodies also react more sensitively to the harmful effects of tobacco consumption and more women than men die as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.
We are dedicated to protecting the climate and the environment. For tobacco cultivation and tobacco consumption have serious consequences for the environment, especially for soil, water and forests, and the atmosphere.
We are committed to a solidary, ecological and peaceful global economy that is oriented towards people’s needs. Because the current global economy is characterized by injustice and favours corporations such as Philip Morris International (PMI) or British American Tobacco (BAT).
We are advocating for tobacco control and demand the effective implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). For this is the most important international instrument for tobacco control. In this health treaty, the signatory states have committed themselves to protect present and future generations from the consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to secondhand smoke and to implement appropriate tobacco control measures.
We call for the promotion and protection of the right to a tobacco-free world, as we have expressed in the Cape Town Declaration together with more than 160 other organisations. Because every year, the tobacco epidemic kills over 8 million people worldwide.
Pathways to a tobacco-free world
In the short and medium term, we are committed to improving the status quo in tobacco cultivation. In the long term, a tobacco-free world means that hardly any tobacco needs to be grown. We are therefore committed at the same time to ensuring that tobacco farmers in the Global South receive support to switch to alternative livelihoods.
Improving working conditions
The working conditions in tobacco growing – debt, child labour, health hazards – are unacceptable. As long as there are still no accessible and economically viable alternatives for tobacco farmers in particular growing regions, there is an urgent need to improve working conditions and occupational health and safety.
Protecting the environment and reforestation
Tobacco production destroys the natural resources by polluting water, depleting the soil and causing deforestation, and generates large amounts of CO2 emissions. Therefore, reforestation measures and strict guidelines for measures to protect the environment and the climate are needed.
Corporate Due Diligence laws
To improve working conditions in tobacco cultivation, the economic framework needs to be changed as quickly as possible, in particular by adopting a strong European law, the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive. The law must effectively oblige companies to ensure improved working conditions, compliance with human rights and environmental protection in their supply chains.
Phasing out tobacco farming and promoting alternative livelihoods
For tobacco farmers to lead a decent and self-determined life, it is necessary to exit tobacco farming and switch to other crops. This requires support for economically, socially and ecologically sustainable alternative livelihoods.
Germany does not yet have a political strategy for sustainable tobacco control and is lagging behind in the implementation of measures to reduce tobacco consumption in Europe. Some examples:
In Germany, tobacco taxes have only been increased marginally in recent years. Tobacco taxes are the most effective measure to reduce the consumption of tobacco and nicotine products. Therefore, annual tobacco tax increases that raise the price of tobacco by at least 10% each year are necessary.
Protection against exposure to secondhand smoke is inadequate in Germany, with only three Federal States having comprehensive laws. Comprehensive laws to protect non-smokers and especially children and young people from secondhand smoke must therefore be introduced and implemented nationwide.
In Germany, far too little funding is made available for addiction prevention. Comprehensive education and information on the hazards of tobacco and nicotine products are an important component of health prevention. This is why awareness campaigns and preventional and educational programs must be better funded.
In order to implement these and other measures in a targeted manner, Germany needs a tobacco control strategy with a binding timetable. The Strategy for a Tobacco-Free Germany 2040 is a practical proposal endorsed by over 50 health and civil society organizations.
The interests of the tobacco industry are fundamentally opposed to the interests of public health. Therefore, the tobacco industry cannot be seen as part of the solution, but must be regulated.
Comprehensive advertising ban
The ban on advertising for tobacco and related products in Germany is still incomplete; for example, it is still possible to advertise at the point of sale or by promotional campaigns. A comprehensive ban on advertising for tobacco and nicotine products, including influencer marketing, sponsorship and promotion, is necessary.
Effectively protect political decisions from the influence of the tobacco industry
Germany lags far behind when it comes to measures against the influence of the tobacco industry on political decisions. Contacts between political decision-makers and tobacco industry representatives must be limited to the bare minimum and need to be made transparent; partnerships between politicians and the industry as well as donations and sponsorships must be banned.
These demands are also reflected in the specific measures proposed in the Strategy for a Tobacco-Free Germany 2040 of the German civil society.
Our contribution to a tobacco-free world
We offer education and do public relations, produce and publish expertise, organise expert and information events and engage in advocacy for tobacco control, sustainable change, human rights and environmental protection.
On national and international level, we network with many organisations working on health and tobacco control, children’s rights and human rights, sustainability and environment.
We provide information on our website, share our knowledge via social media and produce expertise in brochures, factsheets, and other materials.
We provide global learning project days for schools and other educational institutions, primarily in Berlin. We develop our own educational material, such as a simulation game or slideshows and quizzes, and offer them on our website. We lend out the exhibition “Big Tobacco: Profits & Lies”.
We organise events and other activities to inform the public and put pressure on political decision makers. We participate in environmental or neighbourhood festivals in Berlin with information booths and hands-on activities.
In 2017, we co-initiated the Cape Town Declaration, which was adopted by the participants of the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCToH) on March 9, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Together with more than 160 other signatory organisations from around the world, we are firmly committed to promoting and protecting public health and human rights in the face of the tobacco epidemic.
At national level, we contributed to the Strategy for a Tobacco-Free Germany 2040, which was presented to the public in 2021. Together with around 60 health and civil society organisations, we call on politicians to take decisive actions, to protect health policy interests and adopt a tobacco control strategy with a binding timetable.
Network Children’s Rights and Tobacco Control
We have initiated the German Network for Children’s Rights and Tobacco Control and are joining hands with organisations and experts working on health, children’s rights and sustainability to achieve our vision of a tobacco-free world.
We are actively committed to promoting children’s rights and strive for a working and operating environment that effectively prevents risks to children. Read our child protection policy [German] here.
In Germany, we are a member of Berlin One World City, the National Coalition Germany – network for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and supporters of the German Initiative for a Supply Chain Law, Initiative Lieferkettengesetz. Our eduation programme is embedded into the Berlin-wide One World Education Network and the Germany-wide One World Internet Conference (EWIK).
On international level, we are a member of the umbrella organisation Global Alliance for Tobacco Control (GATC) and of the Human Rights in Tobacco Control Network (HRTCN). Additionally, we are a coalition partner of Smokefree Partnership (SFP).