The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

COP5: Tobacco control emerged as 'whole of government' issue

Analysis by FCA policy team

Looking back at COP5, what is important to see is that there was incremental but meaningful progress on the central challenge of getting a “whole of government” commitment to tobacco control. In other words: the FCTC is starting to receive attention from government officials beyond tobacco control specialists in ministries of health.

Tobacco control advocates should in particular celebrate the fact that finance ministries from around the world came to the Working Group on Article 6 (price and tax measures), and then to the COP, were exposed to all the arguments for stronger tobacco control, and reached consensus on quite strong recommendations about the critical role of tobacco taxation.

Concerning short-term gains in global tobacco control, tobacco taxation is arguably the lowest-hanging fruit – it’s easy to do, it’s underused, and we now have a globally agreed document to help with advocacy.

Looking at the longer term, the big news from COP was what happened at Committee B, where the foundations were laid for getting a real global effort, including sustainable funding, to implement the FCTC.

Let’s start with the decision to create a working group on sustainable measures to strengthen implementation of the WHO FCTC. Thanks to it, for the first time Parties will meet between COP sessions to try to come up with recommendations on how to make the already existing system of international cooperation and development assistance work for the FCTC.

The decision to commission a report on possible implementation review mechanisms is another important step in focusing attention on FCTC implementation. At present, Parties’ biennial reports to the COP create a significant burden for ministries of health. While lots of data is collected, there’s no real opportunity to draw meaningful conclusions from them and more importantly, to look at ways in which obstacles to implementation could be addressed. This review is an important first step in revising that process.

There are a number of other aspects of the COP that we will need to reflect on further in the coming months, such as what happens next with the Illicit Trade Protocol, the issue of tobacco growing (Art. 17&18), litigation (Art. 19), product regulation issues (Art. 9&10), and support for travel to FCTC meetings.

See FCA's COP5 resources page

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