The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

COP5 Parties must adopt measures on taxation and illicit trade

Parties to international meeting must reverse trend expected to result in 1 billion tobacco-related deaths by adopting measures on taxation, illicit trade

SEOUL, November 9, 2012 – The 176 Parties to the global tobacco control convention must not miss next week’s opportunity to fight the devastation wrought by the global tobacco epidemic, and should adopt landmark measures on taxation and illicit trade, says the civil society grouping Framework Convention Alliance (FCA).

Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) meet for their fifth session (COP5) in Seoul, 12-17 November. They represent governments that have agreed to implement a range of tobacco control measures in the FCTC – from putting graphic warnings on tobacco packages, to banning tobacco advertising, and creating smoke-free spaces.

 

Tobacco use killed 100 million people in the 20th century, and is expected to claim 1 billion victims this century, unless current trends change.

Parties at COP5 are expected to adopt guidelines on implementing tobacco taxes. It is widely accepted that increasing tobacco prices is the most effective measure that governments can take to curb tobacco use, and raising taxes is a step that can be implemented repeatedly.

By curbing tobacco use, taxes reduce tobacco-related death and injury, while also raising much-needed revenue for governments. Despite these positive results, many COP Parties have been slow to increase tobacco taxes for a variety of reasons, including pressure from the tobacco industry, which constantly raises the spectre that higher taxes will result in more smuggling.

“In fact, the level of corruption in a country is a better predictor of the illicit tobacco trade than the level of tobacco taxes,” said FCA Director Laurent Huber.

“Large tobacco tax increases are imperative if the countries of the world wish to bring the tobacco epidemic under control in coming years,” Huber added.

The FCTC Parties are also expected to approve the draft Protocol on the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (ITP). It will lead to more control of the legal tobacco trade (through licensing, record keeping, due diligence, tracing, etc), enhance cooperation between countries, and facilitate investigations.

“We are excited that after years of discussions, this protocol should finally be adopted at COP5,” said Huber. “The illicit trade in tobacco feeds the worldwide tobacco epidemic by flooding markets with cheap products and keeping tobacco taxes low.”

The ITP will come into effect 90 days after it has been ratified by 40 Parties to the FCTC.

Adoption of the protocol is just the first step, Huber added. “It is essential that FCTC Parties begin at COP5 to plan capacity building and technical assistance for low-resource countries on items such as the tracking and tracing of tobacco products.”

The FCTC has become one of the most widely accepted international conventions. It now has 176 Parties, representing nearly 90 percent of the world’s population.

A global alliance, FCA represents more than 300 members in over 100 countries.

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