The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (Tobacco-Free Kids) and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), in partnership with Dejusticia and the Global Center for Legal Innovation on Food Environments from the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown University, hosted the second joint Tobacco Control and Food Policy legal workshop on Sept. 26-28, 2023. Tobacco control lawyers have been meeting in Latin America for 13 years, and Food Policy lawyers began meeting in 2017. These events merged in 2022 to promote cross-learning between both public health areas as they face similar regulatory challenges and industry opposition coming from the tobacco and the food and beverage industries.

Legal experts from civil society organizations and academic institutions dedicated to using law and policy to promote public health from more than 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were in attendance. The workshop gave them the opportunity to share country-specific legal actions and pathways.

The event's objective was to explore innovative legal strategies in tobacco control and food policy as part of the broader movement of using the law to curb the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases. Topics discussed included challenges and opportunities around conflict of interest and lobby regulations for corporate behavior, the potential for new areas of law to promote marketing regulations of unhealthy products – such as data protection and artificial intelligence, climate justice and its intersection with food policy and tobacco control, legal risks around mass media campaigns and lessons learned from strategic litigation across the region.

Participants had the opportunity to share their own experiences and insights gained from their legal work in their respective countries and regions. This knowledge exchange was invaluable, fostering a sense of camaraderie and enabling participants to tackle common challenges in advancing public health through legal means. The attendees' passion and active participation underscored the value of a joint workshop to exchange lessons learned and experiences across tobacco control and food policy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

A key focus of the workshop revolved around identifying future collaborative opportunities among participants, with an emphasis on mutual support and knowledge-sharing. Among the strategies discussed were ways to support organizations with active legal cases with amicus briefs and sharing lessons learned on legal mechanisms to advance advocacy efforts across the region.

Participants defined this workshop as a “key space to incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives into our work, and valuable to nurture and expand reflections and build more solid legal strategies to advance our human rights work.”

This landmark workshop represents a significant stride toward empowering legal advocates to shape the future of tobacco control and food policy. Through collaborative sessions and inspiring discussions, the workshop ignited a shared commitment for civil society organizations to drive positive change in our communities. As Tobacco-Free Kids and GHAI reaffirm our commitment to strengthening legal capacity worldwide, the steady resolve of our participants to apply their newfound legal insights in their respective nations paints a promising future for a healthier Latin America.

Video is available here: 

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