People have died from tobacco-related diseases since the opening of the first FCTC working group on 28 October 1999.
- April 11, 2014
With the meeting in early April of the Working Group on Sustainable Measures to Strengthen Implementation of the WHO FCTC, this cycle of meetings of working, drafting and expert groups has come to an end.
The only remaining tasks are for the groups to finish drafting their reports to COP6 in the coming weeks, have them translated and send them to Parties for comments, where this is still needed. Finalized reports must be posted by the deadline of 60 days before the start of COP6 (i.e. by mid-August).
The reports of the Article 6 (price and tax measures) drafting group may well turn out to be the most straightforward: guiding principles and recommendations were already adopted at COP5, so the group’s task was to simplify the text justifying each of the already agreed recommendations.
In time for WNTD?
As the FCTC Secretariat has already reported on its website, draft guidelines were sent to Parties for comments back in September 2013, so presumably a final version can’t be too far off. With World No Tobacco Day (31 May) focusing on tobacco taxation this year, it would be a nice surprise if the draft guidelines were translated and published by then.
The Article 17/18 working group is facing a somewhat more complicated task: completing “policy options and recommendations” on tobacco-growing issues, after five years of discussions. (The working group was established at COP3 in 2008.) This was the topic that sparked some of the most heated debate at COP5, so it will be interesting to see what the working group reports this time, after two meetings (in October 2013 and February 2014).
The Article 9/10 working group held a single meeting, in January, on a range of product testing/disclosure/regulation issues.
Most ambitious mandate
The “sustainable measures” working group (also referred to as mechanisms of assistance, or MoA) probably had the most ambitious mandate of any working group in FCTC history, as there are clearly many, many different aspects to FCTC implementation.
It will be interesting to see what this working group proposes. It is a fairly safe bet that discussions on implementation issues will continue for many COPs – indeed, they may well become the focus of most future COP sessions.
Finally, lawyers are no doubt looking forward with particular interest to the report of the Article 19 expert group – Article 19 being the oft-neglected article dealing with liability issues. A small number of Parties have extensive experience with lawsuits against the tobacco industry; many more have experience defending tobacco control laws against industry challenges.
Clearly this is an area where there is lots of scope for improved co-operation between Parties – if the necessary budgets can be found.