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Tobacco Companies Seeking To Influence Policy Are Violating the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Tobacco industry representatives are continuing to meet with and are attempting to influence government officials in many countries.

http://www.cancertherapyadvisor.com/iaslc-2016/tobacco-control-companies-seeking-influence-policy-violations-cancer/article/577761/

Tobacco industry representatives are continuing to meet with and are attempting to influence government officials in many countries, which is a direct violation of those countries’ commitments under the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), according to a report presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) in Austria.1

Luke Clancy, MD, of the Tobacco Free Research Institute in Dublin, Ireland, said that the tobacco industry’s access to tobacco control policy makers has had a harmful impact on public health and provides the companies with a direct avenue to influence public policy.

The tobacco industry manipulates contacts in government under the guise of helping national governments negotiate harmonization of tobacco excise tax deadlines, for example, but Dr Clancy said that this directly contravenes FCTC Article 5.3, which aims to prevent industry from influencing policy development.

Tobacco use remains “stubbornly high” in Europe, despite the existence of widely recognized and effective interventions, such as raising the price of tobacco products through taxation, adopting smoke-free legislation to prevent exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace, and banning advertising and promotion of tobacco use, said Dr Clancy.

In a related press conference, Dr Clancy indicated that although all 27 European Union member state countries have initiated some type of strategy to become smoke free, there is still much work to be done.2

“Despite this progress, the prevalence of smoking in Ireland is 18.5%. The prevalence of smoking in Europe as a whole remains at approximately 29% of the adult population, and seems to be increasing among females in some European countries,” he said. “Ireland hopes to be tobacco free by 2025. Full implementation of the WHO FCTC recommendations may not be enough to achieve this in Ireland.”

WHO recommends the monitoring of smoking and the provision of cessation programs, but the implementation of services to support cessation of tobacco use in line with Article 14 of the FCTC “can and should be significantly improved,” said Dr Clancy. He contended that the tobacco industry and its allies have worked to oppose price increases by attempting to persuade finance ministers that a price increase will lead to a loss of revenue through an increase in smuggling despite evidence to the contrary.

Smoke-free policies can achieve their positive effect by educating the public about the health benefits of quitting smoking, limiting opportunities to smoke, and promoting an attitude of denormalization of smoking, he concluded.

References
1. Clancy L. Tobacco Control. Paper presented at: 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer; December 2016; Vienna, Austria.
2. Clancy L. Press Conference at: 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer; December 5 2016; Vienna, Austria.

National Cancer Institute – The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control

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COP7 decisions: an overview

http://www.fctc.org/fca-news/opinion-pieces/183-news/1499-cop7-decisions-an-overview

FCA identified three interlinked implementation-related priorities for COP7 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC):

  • Follow-up on the 30-percent prevalence reduction target agreed at COP6;
  • Establishment of an implementation review mechanism (IRM: i.e. a system to review Parties’ reports);
  • Action on fundraising for national-level implementation, building on the work of the sustainable measures working group.

At the meeting there was action on all three, though with a somewhat surprising twist with respect to IRM. Rather than immediately establishing an implementation review committee, Parties instead set up a working group to draft a “strategic framework” for the FCTC – which should deal with a range of implementation issues, including a possible IRM. The working group will also review and prioritize Parties’ needs for implementation assistance and will reflect them in the strategic framework.

It is quite common for treaty bodies to draw up strategic plans, and these have proven to be helpful both to keep a tight focus on priority issues and to raise funds.

30-percent target

On the 30-percent target, Parties requested that the Secretariat and WHO hold a technical consultation between COP7 and COP8 to identify necessary actions that the COP could take to ensure that the global voluntary target is achieved. The decision also requests that the Secretariat collect information regarding national targets.

There were other notable debates at COP7. On the Illicit Trade Protocol, unlike during previous COP sessions, there was widespread recognition that people shouldn’t wait until the ITP is in force before thinking about some of the implementation issues that are likely to arise.

On e-cigarettes, Parties spent a considerable amount of time re-hashing the issue, and butted heads for quite a while on the exact wording of a decision. The COP7 decision is quite similar to what was decided at COP6.

Finally, there were a host of other decisions. (COP7 had the longest list of official documents of any COP session to date.) These included:

Art 5.3 Knowledge Hub

  • On Article 5.3, a decision to establish a Knowledge Hub, and to ask the Secretariat to continue promoting measures to address tobacco industry interference among UN agencies.
  • On Article 9/10, additions to the existing guidelines were adopted. These included provisions to regulate design features that increase attractiveness (e.g. slims), and disclosure to governments of the contents of tobacco products.
  • Continuing work on Article 17&18, including a request to WHO to develop guidelines for surveillance, prevention and early diagnosis of occupational harms and risks specific to tobacco cultivation and manufacture.
  • Endorsement of a toolkit on Article 19 developed by an expert group, as well as some follow-up by the Secretariat.
  • On the FCTC impact assessment submitted to COP7, the COP welcomed the findings but did not commit to repeating the exercise immediately, instead encouraging Parties to consider evaluating on a regular basis the impact of the Convention at country level.

Cross-border advertising

  • On cross-border advertising, establishment of a new expert group to provide recommendations on operationalizing the implementation of Article 13 and its Guidelines on cross-border advertising and TAPS in entertainment media.
  • On Waterpipe: a request for a report to COP8 including a situation analysis and an overview of challenges and recommendations for improving the prevention and control of water pipe tobacco use.
  • On Gender: the Secretariat and WHO were requested to prepare a paper for COP8 on opportunities and challenges in implementing gender-specific tobacco control policies.
  • On trade and investment agreements, the COP called on Parties to increase coordination and cooperation between health and trade/investment departments, including in the context of negotiations of trade and investment agreements. It also requested a report for COP8 on a number of topics, including on practices in promoting and safeguarding public health measures under trade and investment agreements.
  • Moving to institutional matters, COP7 decided the following:

‘Voluntary’ no more

  • Parties’ mandatory payments to the FCTC budget will now be called Assessed Contributions (not Voluntary Assessed Contributions). The COP also agreed on a scheme of penalties should a Party fail to provide these payments.
  • The Convention Secretariat should consider holding a financing dialogue to raise extra-budgetary funding for the FCTC budget and to alert funders to the implementation needs of Parties. It was also agreed that when raising funds from stakeholders other than Parties, the Secretariat should follow the practices agreed on in WHO’s Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA).
  • The Secretariat was tasked to undertake a review of accreditation of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) with the status of observer to the Conference of the Parties, as proposed by the COP7 report. At COP8, results of this review will be discussed and further decisions, such as whether this review should take place on a regular basis or whether observer status may be discontinued for some IGOs, might be taken.

New Observers

  • The observer status of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) was extended for most of the current observers. In addition, the following three NGOs were granted an observer status: American Cancer Society, Inter-American Heart Foundation, Vision mondiale de la santé / World Vision Health. A number of organizations were denied observer status per the recommendation of the Bureau.
  • The Secretariat was encouraged to apply for observer status to a number of UN bodies and other relevant entities, including UNDP, World Bank, ILO, FAO, and WTO. The Secretariat’s participation at governing body meetings of these organizations could raise the profile of the treaty and its provisions, including the Article 5.3 principles.
  • Synergies between the WHO and FCTC governing bodies – the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the World Health Assembly (WHA) – were strengthened by agreeing that reports on decisions from COP will be presented to WHA and vice versa.

WHO and FCTC agreement

  • The Bureau was requested to oversee and guide the preparation of the draft hosting terms between the Convention Secretariat and WHO. Once finalized, the hosting agreement should clarify the exact WHO contributions to support the work of the Convention Secretariat.
  • A dedicated methodology to review performance of the Head of the Secretariat was agreed upon. The review of performance for the current Head is set to take place in 2017, as her mandate expires in mid-2018.
  • The COP took no decision on transparency of Party delegations (i.e. whether Party delegates should make a declaration on any links with the tobacco industry, and what possible follow-up steps should take place). This point will be reviewed again at COP8.

Finally, on the issue of the FCTC budget, it was decided that the budget for 2018-2019 covered by Parties’ mandatory payments will be lowered by nearly US$300,000 compared to the budget for the current biennium. As a result, virtually all activities included in the workplan for 2018-2019 will need to be funded by extra-budgetary contributions.

Please note that the above summary is not an exhaustive list of all the decisions taken at COP7, and there may be surprises in the final version of the decisions when they are published (in part because many decisions were not finalized till very late in the session.)

– See more at: http://www.fctc.org/fca-news/opinion-pieces/183-news/1499-cop7-decisions-an-overview#sthash.giEvrPnq.dpuf

Tobacco Industry And Front Groups Pump Up Their Propaganda For COP7

http://www.asiantribune.com/node/89760

Over the past year, governments across the globe have continued to make new agreements with the tobacco industry, as shown above. However there is a ray of hope from Namibia, which is choosing to grow more food crops.

The tobacco industry is very angry that the Conference of the Parties (COP) is using Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect the policy-making process from industry interference.

The industry has hijacked the “public space” of the COP. FCTC Parties have responded in recent sessions by not allowing participation from the “public”, which is dominated by industry representatives. For COP7, FCA is recommending Parties adopt pre-screening processes for the public and for the media. (Presently, media is in the category public).

The industry has gone on the offensive: conducting an international campaign to attack and discredit the COP and the World Health Organization (WHO) about lack of transparency. Industry representatives have written angry letters to both the COP and WHO and published many statements in the media criticizing the COP’s lack of ‘transparency’, which strikes a chord with broader society.

The industry throws a tantrum whenever it does not get its way, and has no qualms in criticising the 180 governments that are FCTC Parties. In one statement, a representative of Japan Tobacco International (JTI) said the industry wants to see change, (read, “we want to influence the COP”), and that it needs to “keep raising our voice about these censorship practices”.

Since the tobacco industry has no credibility to criticise the COP and tobacco control, it has recruited front groups, think tanks and sympathetic individuals to sing from its song sheet.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is one such close ally. It advises the industry to talk more about “due process and fairness and less about the specifics of tobacco policy in drawing attention to this issue”.

According to the IEA, “With regard to [Article] 5.3 and COP, the industry needs to find allies amongst groups who take an interest in transparency, openness and constitutional structures. Such groups needn’t be sympathetic to the regulatory agenda of the industry; indeed they may even be antagonistic to the industry and tobacco products in general. That needn’t matter—the issue here is about the manner in which policy is developed and created, not the exact content of the policy.”

Another industry funded group, the International Tax and Investment Centre (ITIC), has stepped up its efforts to protect industry interests ever since the FCTC Secretariat issued a Note Verbal in 2014 about its activities. Earlier this year, an ITIC consultant, Gary Johns, wrote to several civil society groups involved in tobacco control taking issue with the critiques they had done on the ITIC’s skewed research. In a 36-page letter he sent to the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) earlier this year Johns wrote, “vested interests are not the problem – debate behind closed doors is”.

The letter was riddled with false accusations against SEATCA, mischaracterizations of fact and law, disparaging comments about the WHO, the Framework Convention Secretariat and FCTC Parties. SEATCA published an open letter in response.

In September, Johns, a former Australian Labor Minister, released a publication attacking WHO for not conducting its business in “transparent fashion and in public view.” The tobacco industry publicized his report in the Tobacco Reporter.

Another industry front group, the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA), which routinely rounds up its members to rabble rouse at COP sessions, has stepped up its misinformation campaign. ITGA’s Indian member Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA) has been applying pressure on the Indian government to allow its members to the COP using arguments of “principles of transparency and equity”

ITGA’s president has also claimed that the FCTC had banned dozens of officials representing tobacco-growing countries from participating in COP7.

A similar statement was made by a new NGO representative cum journalist, who claimed, “The policy of banning delegates having associations with tobacco production is said to be so broad that it will almost certainly prohibit finance ministers, economic development secretaries, public health officials, and even presidents and prime ministers …”

In September, ITGA members from North and South America, India, Europe, Africa, and Indonesia were in New Delhi for a two-day seminar to prepare their protests for COP7.

The ITGA claims COP decisions are being made “only by health officials and activists”. This is simply not true. Government delegations have included officials from non-health departments, such as ministries of agriculture, industry and trade, as official COP records show (Table 1).

In 2008, FCTC Parties adopted Article 5.3 guidelines. They include recommendations 4.9 and 8.3, which explicitly state that Parties should not nominate any person employed by the tobacco industry, or any entity working to further the industry’s interests, to serve on delegations to COP or other FCTC meetings, nor should any representatives of state-owned tobacco industries be included on government delegations.

WHO Chief Calls for Multisectoral Collaboration in Global Health Advocacy

http://www.womenofchina.cn/womenofchina/html1/news/international/1611/4463-1.htm

“Tobacco use kills around 6 million people each year. That’s a fact. Health literacy must extend from the personal to the political and policy levels,” said Margaret Chan, the director-general of WHO, in her keynote address at the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion.

From November 21 to 24, World Health Organization officials, health ministers and health city mayors, totaling more than 1,180 health sector personnel from 126 countries and regions, will gather in Shanghai to discuss global health promotion and equity.

The conference, led by WHO, rotates host cities every three to four years. This year’s event is the first one to be held in China, the country with the world’s biggest population and thus the toughest challenge when it comes to health.

Describing the combination of legislative and fiscal measures as “among the most effective interventions,” Chan called for intersectional efforts at both the national and municipal levels to reshape people’s environments and lifestyle choices.

“Today’s complex health challenges can no longer be addressed by the health sector acting alone. Curbing the rise of antimicrobial resistance requires policy support from agriculture. Access to clean energy fuels economic growth, but it also reduces millions of deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular disease associated with air pollution,” Chan said.

Citing success in Australia, the U.K. and France, the director-general called on more countries to carry out Plain Packaging, a tobacco control measure headed by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“In October, WHO urged governments to introduce taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce their significant contribution to obesity, diabetes and dental decay,” she added.

Chan also urged governments to accept responsibility for protecting children from obesity, and for assisting the poor in accessing healthy foods.

Tobacco industry frustrating control – watchdog

An anti-tobacco misuse watchdog under the umbrella of Tobacco Control Forum has accused the tobacco industry of conniving with some government officials to frustrate tobacco control efforts.

http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1440251/tobacco-industry-frustrating-control-watchdog

This was at a press briefing at Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organisation (UNHCO) headquarters in Bukoto, Kampala.

Mabel Kukunda, UNHCO’s advocacy and networking officer, said the industry players funded a section of government officials to attend the Conference of the Parties (COP7) in India.

“We know that lobbying government officials is one of the documented strategies that the tobacco industry uses to subvert, undermine and derail tobacco control efforts,” she told reporters.

“We are aware that a team of people who support the tobacco business forced their way to attend a global anti-tobacco conference but were blocked on the basis that they are tobacco industry promoters.”

Those nominated were a 14-member team from the health and finance ministries and NGOs fighting tobacco consumption.

The COP is the governing body of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control and is comprised of all parties to the convention. It keeps under regular review the implementation of the convention and takes the decisions necessary to promote effective implementation.

“Given its mandate, the tobacco industry and its allies must not in any way participate in this meeting as this would clearly be an act of interfering with the tobacco control formulation process,” said Kukunda.

Andrew Kwizeera, the technical resource person of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, explained that participation of the tobacco industry and its allies in any activity furthering tobacco control is an attempt to promote tobacco industry interests at a global level.

“Their attempts are always to show the public that they are in the normal business yet their operations impact negatively on the lives of the people because their products are toxic.”

Section 19 of the Tobacco Act restricts government officials from interacting, supporting, endorsing or accepting any non-binding or non-enforceable agreement with the tobacco industry except for purposes of regulating and monitoring the tobacco industry or products and the interaction must be transparent.

Kwizeera said the Tobacco Control bill aims at promoting and providing alternative livelihoods for persons engaged in tobacco growing centrally to the assertions by the tobacco industry and its allies that tobacco growing is being banned.

Jennifer Kalule, the technical advisor communications and advocacy at the Centre for Disease Control, urged government officials to desist from getting involved in tobacco industry efforts to derail tobacco control efforts.

“There is no excuse whatsoever that justifies undermining domestic laws including Tobacco Control Act which was enacted to protect the health and lives of Ugandans,” she said.

Myanmar ranks last in ASEAN tobacco control study

With out-of-date policies, cheap access, and ubiquitous usage, Myanmar ranks last in tobacco control, according to a survey of the region released last week.

http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/23722-myanmar-ranks-last-in-asean-tobacco-control-study.html

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) study measures each of the ASEAN countries’ implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) framework for tobacco control. Myanmar scored 45.7 out of 100, falling just behind the Philippines and Laos. Singapore topped the list with a score of 80.5.

Myanmar adopted the Control of Smoking and Consumption of Tobacco Product Law on May 4, 2006, to reduce the number of people using tobacco and tobacco-related products. The law contains rules on non-smoking areas and regulations to control the sale, production and advertising of tobacco products.

However, according to the SEATCA survey, Myanmar lags behind other countries in its banning of smoking in indoor workspaces, including bars and restaurants, and indoor public places. It is the only country that has not regularly updated its tobacco control policy and strategy, according to the study.

While it falls in the middle of the pack for taxation of tobacco products, Myanmar stands alone as the only country in the region that does not spend any public money on tobacco control, according to the study. And, despite the taxation, cigarettes are still fairly cheap: K2000 for a pack of Regular Marl¬boros and K800 for a pack of Red Ruby, the most popular brand in the country. Red Ruby’s are the cheapest cigarettes in the region.

The country is also middling in its ability to provide education or cessation programs.

According to the report, the government does not allow tobacco industry officials to sit on government committees or advisory groups that are deciding health policy.

However, the government does give preferential treatment to the tobacco industry, according to the report.

Like many of the other countries in the region, regulation of tobacco advertising and sponsorship goes unenforced in many mediums. Tobacco ads are banned in television, movies, print media, and billboards but there is no enforcement of tobacco advertising bans on the internet.

Regulations on the packaging of tobacco products, on the other hand, are fairly strong when compared with other countries in the region. A majority of the packaging is dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of using tobacco.

In February, the government announced that new regulations would go into effect on September 1, requiring that health warnings and graphic photos illustrating the dangers of tobacco use must appear on all brands of cigarette and other tobacco products manufactured in Myanmar.

However, the tobacco companies asked for a six-month reprieve. The Department of Public Health told The Myanmar Times that following appeals from the companies – which cited a lack of awareness among retailers that they could face punishment if they sell incorrectly packaged products – the rules would not go into effect until February 2017.

Once the new law is in full effect, anyone involved in the production, distribution or sale of tobacco products that do not contain a graphic warning label could be subject to a fine of between K10,000 (US$7.95) and K30,000 for a first offence.

According to a 2014 survey, the rate of tobacco use in Myanmar is 26.1 percent of the population, including 43.8pc of men and 8.4pc of women.

WITH MIXED PROGRESS, NATIONS REVIEW WAR VS. TOBACCO INDUSTRY

http://macaudailytimes.com.mo/mixed-progress-nations-review-war-vs-tobacco-industry.html

In Nepal, health warnings cover 90 percent of cigarette packs, while Australia requires those packets be wrapped in drab, plain paper. Indonesia’s new ban on outdoor advertising brought down tobacco billboards depicting smiling, smoking youths. And India wants scary photos of rotting lungs and mouth tumors covering packets sold in the country.

Still, national drives to discourage smoking and cut back tobacco sales haven’t done enough, campaigners say. Smoking-related deaths are still rising worldwide, with 80 percent of them expected to occur in developing country populations by 2030.

“Most people in the United States think tobacco is over and done with, but it’s still the largest preventable cause of disease on the planet” killing 6 million people a year — or one person every six seconds, said John Stewart, deputy campaigns director at the Boston-based lobbying group Corporate Accountability International.

Starting Monday, representatives from at least 178 countries are meeting for five days in the Indian capital to discuss how they can further the fight against smoking and push back against tobacco company lobbyists.

Since they set down stiff regulations and guidelines in a landmark 2003 treaty called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control — the first and only global treaty dealing with public health — most of the 180 signatories have ratified it and passed laws restricting tobacco advertising or sales.

Still, many governments remain entangled with powerful tobacco companies, while industry lobbyists continue attempts to stymie efforts to implement anti-smoking laws through bribery, misinformation and even suing national governments for lost profits, campaigners say.

“The tobacco industry is definitely feeling the heat,” Stewart said. “They’ve got their back against the wall.”

Indian courts are currently grappling with 62 lawsuits filed by tobacco companies or cigarette makers challenging laws requiring that 85 percent of all cigarette packets be covered with photos of medical horrors.

In Japan, a 10-percent hike in taxes on cigarettes has led to a 30-percent decline in smoking. But the country still has some of the lowest tax rates on cigarettes among industrialized nations, while its finance ministry owns 33 percent in Japan Tobacco.

The anti-tobacco campaign has had some success. It is widely accepted, at least among national leaders, that smoking causes cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, along with a host of other harmful health impacts.

That awareness still has not trickled down to national populations, though. And campaigners say tobacco interests have shifted their focus to poorer, less educated populations in the developing world.

India — among the first to ratify the anti-tobacco treaty in 2004 — is still considered one of the biggest battlegrounds in the fight against the tobacco industry, public health specialists say.

Despite harsh laws passed more than a decade ago banning smoking in public and sales to children, smoking is still common across the country. A government survey in 2010 showed nearly 35 percent of adults were either smoking or chewing tobacco.

Meanwhile, more than 1 million Indians die each year from tobacco-related diseases that cost the country some $16 billion annually, according to the World Health Organization.

“The revenues that the government earns from tobacco taxes are far less than the billions that are spent on health care,” said Bhavna Mukhopadhyay of the Voluntary Health Association of India, a public health organization.

“Public health and the health of the tobacco industry cannot go hand in hand,” she said, noting that campaigners are now pushing for countries to make tobacco companies and their shareholders civilly and criminally liable for the harm done by tobacco.

Part of the trouble in India is “the Indian consumer is spoilt for choice,” she said, with cigarettes sold alongside chewing tobacco and cheap, hand-rolled smokes known as bidis.

The easy availability and wide choice means many smokers get hooked at a young age. Some are initiated early through the common, cultural practice of chewing something called gutka, which combines tobacco with spices, lime and betel nut and is widely sold as a mouth freshener.

Putting pictorial warnings on cigarette packets is an attempt to educate people about the risks.

“The idea was that even an illiterate person, or a child, would understand the message about the health risks from smoking,” said Monika Arora of the Public Health Foundation of India, who runs an anti-smoking campaign aimed at young Indians. Nirmala George, New Delhi, AP

Significant new developments for global tobacco control

http://www.asiantribune.com/node/89729

Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, the Head of the Convention Secretariat, of the Seventh Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which concluded on 12th November 2016, in Greater Noida, New Delhi, said addressing the final ceremony, “The long hours of debate and planning has produced a strong road map for global tobacco control for the future. Despite all the hard work by the Parties it is sad to see the interest, yet again, being promoted in the room.

It is determined to undermine and distract us from our goal – to fight against the tobacco epidemic that not only damages health and kills people, but also impoverishes those living in low- to middle- income countries.”

Several significant decisions were adopted in the course of the six-day session and during an intense week of discussions delegates addressed the longest agenda of any COP, indicating the enthusiasm of Parties and the growing role of tobacco control within areas of development and human rights, as well as public health.

The decisions reached, shaping the future of the Convention, is set against the stark reality that without strong tobacco control measures tobacco will kill about 1 billion people in the 21st Century. By 2030, over 80 percent of the world’s tobacco-related mortality will be in low- and- middle income countries.

Parties continue to be concerned, as expressed at COP7, by the tobacco industry’s persistent attempts to infiltrate and manipulate the workings of the Convention and the outcome of COP7. Noting with concern that the tobacco industry’s tactics at the international level affects implementation of the Convention at a country level, COP7 urged Parties to intensify multi-sectoral actions and cooperation to address strategies of the tobacco industry to undermine or subvert tobacco control. It calls on Parties to remain vigilant of tobacco industry efforts to undermine the implementation of WHO FCTC.

The decision on electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) invites Parties that have not yet banned the importation, sale and distribution of ENDS/ENNDS to consider either prohibition or regulating such products.

Parties called for further unbiased, commercially independent and scientifically-based research to ascertain the overall health impact and long-term public health risks of ENDS/ENNDS. Some Parties expressed concern at the use of health claims as a marketing tool for ENDS/ENNDS. There was also consideration that all the different devices and delivery systems should be regulated under national legislation in the same way as drugs or tobacco products, while others called for them to be banned outright. Further evidence-based scientific research is to be prepared.

The decision encourages Parties not growing tobacco to not start. It urges Parties to adopt a whole-of-government approach and participation with stakeholders to promote alternatives to tobacco growing and avoid tobacco industry obstruction in programmes meant for welfare and diversification of tobacco growing and workers and the protection of the environment, as appropriate in the national context.

Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva told delegates during the closing ceremony, “We have an obligation to protect vulnerable members of the tobacco production chain – the farmers. But we do that not through encouraging more growing, as the tobacco industry does, but through the development of solid, sustainable alternatives that will promote a better future for farmers and their families.”

The Parties recognize scientific evidence has established that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability. The Parties adopt the report of the expert group, including a specifically designed toolkit, as a mechanism of assistance to those Parties that may require assistance in developing civil liability. It encourages Parties to consider options, including developing their legislation or liability procedures, as appropriate, and increasing their international cooperation in order to strengthen implementation of Article 19 of the WHO FCTC.

The Parties have requested further research on evidence on tobacco use and tobacco control and its consequences among girls and women, as well as boys and men, with special attention to vulnerable groups, in respect to social determinants of health.

The Parties recognize that tobacco control is related to a number of Sustainable Development Goals and targets including those related to the environment and human rights. The Parties requested the Convention Secretariat to strengthen the treaty relationship with other international agencies and frameworks, enhancing synergies towards common global health and development goals.

The Impact Assessment report, presented to COP7, reveals how implementation of the WHO FCTC is gaining force around the world. Where it is applied prevalence drops and so does demand for tobacco.