The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

African NGOs meet COMESA on Articles 9&10

 The African tobacco control NGO delegation outside COMESA headquarters.A delegation of African tobacco control Non Government Organisations (NGOs) recently met staff of a sub-regional government body to discuss its opposition to partial guidelines relating to tobacco control product regulation.

Under the auspices of the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA), the delegation met trade and public relations staff from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), at their headquarters in Zambia. This followed meetings with tobacco control focal points from the Zambian Ministry of Health and the local WHO office.

Under discussion was Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Articles 9&10, which refer to tobacco product regulation and were adopted during the Conference of the Parties to the global tobacco treaty in November 2010 (COP-4).

COMESA opposed the guidelines to ban flavourings added to tobacco to make it more palatable, saying they would 'kill' demand for tobacco and devastate production in some of its member countries. FCA pointed out that restricting flavourings would not result in a ban on tobacco. 

During the COMESA discussions the delegation learned that prior to COP-4, the International Tobacco Growers Association had lobbied COMESA, and that the organisation was open to more engagement with the tobacco control community.

Following its meetings, the delegation held a press conference attended by 15 journalists, civil society and diplomatic community representatives.

The delegation said its key learnings from the meetings were that NGOs:

  • Must pay closer attention to developments at the regional and sub-regional level.
  • Need to sensitise COMESA about public health, provide them with better information, and continuously engage with them to pre-empt further attack on the FCTC.
  • Will return to Zambia for more follow-up visits.

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