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The Journal Gazette

Friday, November 10, 2017 1:00 am

UN agency doesn't cut tobacco ties

Announcement reverses statement made earlier in day

JAMEY KEATEN | Associated Press

GENEVA – In an embarrassing retreat, the U.N. labor agency says it has shelved a decision on whether to end its ties with Big Tobacco, correcting its own statement earlier Thursday indicating that it would cut ties to an industry faulted for major health risks.

International Labor Organization spokesman Hans von Rohland cited a mix-up in which the “tripartite” U.N. agency – bringing together business, labor groups and governments – had previously said it would stop taking funds from the tobacco industry and end their public-private partnerships.

“We sent you the wrong version of the decision taken by the ILO Governing Body on ILO cooperation with the tobacco industry,” von Rohland said in an email to reporters. “The ILO has not at this stage made a decision to end cooperation with the tobacco industry.”

“We are very sorry for this error in transmission,” he added.

Instead of the four-point decision initially sent to reporters, the agency issued a revised, one-point decision saying its governing body had instructed its director-general to present an “integrated ILO strategy” to address labor issues on the tobacco sector at its next meeting in March.

Anti-tobacco groups say the ILO is the last U.N. agency to retain ties to the tobacco business.