This year Germany has to report to the UN Committee on the Convention on Women’s Rights (CEDAW). Unfairtobacco, together with nine other organisations, has sent a submission to the committee to draw attention to the violation of women’s rights by tobacco products.

Update 29.04.2020 – Our success!
The UN Committee on the Convention on Women’s Rights (CEDAW) has included our concerns into their List of Issues to the German government.

On tobacco use, the Committee asks:
„Please provide information on measures taken to prevent and reduce nicotine and tobacco addiction among girls and women.“

On due diligence of (tobacco) companies, the Committee asks four questions about Germany’s legislation to hold corporations accountable for women’s rights violations in their operations abroad. Additionally, the government has to explain how it ensures that international human rights have the primacy over investors’ interests in trade and investment agreements.

Smoking and secondhand smoke

Tobacco use kills 8 million people every year, including about 50,000 women in Germany. Although the smoking prevalence among women in Germany is slowly declining, 23% of women and girls over 15 years of age still smoke.

Tobacco is a human rights issue and in particular violates the right to health. Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death from non-communicable diseases, such as cancer. Smoking and secondhand smoke harm women especially during pregnancy.

Despite immense health damage, tobacco control in Germany lags behind. Essential tobacco control measures are only very inadequately implemented: tobacco tax increases, comprehensive legislation for smoke-free zones and a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. At the same time, political parties receive donations, sponsoring or support for party events from tobacco companies.

Planting and harvesting tobacco

Tobacco cultivation is also linked to the violation of women’s rights, for example the right to health. Lack of protective clothing when handling pesticides as well as the nicotine in the tobacco leaves lead to poisonings. Pregnant women are particularly affected.

Germany is one of the leading cigarette exporters in the world and imports approximately 115,000 tonnes of tobacco leaf annually. Therefore, Germany is also obliged to support the compliance with human rights standards in the tobacco supply chain. To date, however, there is no law that would guarantee transparency and human rights due diligence for companies based in Germany. A supply chain law is urgently needed.

Submission to the CEDAW committee

Read here the original submission to the CEDAW committee.

Submitting Organisations

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH USA)
Berlin Working Group on Environment and Development (BLUE 21) / Unfairtobacco
Deutsches Netz rauchfreier Krankenhäuser & Gesundheitseinrichtungen (DNRfK)
FACT e.V. – Women Against Tobacco
German NCD Alliance (DANK)
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
Health Care Plus
Institute for Therapy and Health Research (IFT Nord)
Vivantes Klinikum Neukölln
VIVID – Institute for the Prevention of Addiction

Tobacco control in Germany: Failure to protect the right to health and women’s rights in supply chains