People have died from tobacco-related diseases since the opening of the first FCTC working group on 28 October 1999.
This is a quick overview of the outcomes of the sixth session of the FCTC Conference of the Parties (COP6).
In the opening plenary, INTERPOL’s application for observer status was rapidly rejected because of the organisation’s partnership deal with Philip Morris International.
The plenary also decided to continue the COP4 and COP5 practice of excluding the public from Committee A and Committee B proceedings, rejecting an Australian proposal (which FCA supported) to allow members of the public into the room as long as they signed an undertaking that they were not affiliated with the tobacco industry.
In Committee A, one very big piece of good news came Wednesday: the adoption of guidelines on Article 6 (price and tax measures), without change. The guidelines should be a key advocacy resource for future tax campaigns.
Other Committee A issues:
With respect to the illicit trade protocol, the key development was the decision (proposed by SEARO) to create a “panel of experts” to help prospective Parties to the ITP with the technical aspects of preparing for ratification/accession and implementation.
- On Article 5.3, Parties agreed that more work is needed, both at the national level and also to deal with tobacco industry efforts to forge “partnerships” with various international organisations. The Secretariat and WHO now have a clear mandate to tackle these issues, and we’ll have further discussion on this at COP7.
- On Article 19 (liability), there was a lot of back and forth, before the COP agreed on extending the mandate of the expert group.
- On smokeless tobacco products, there was a good deal of debate between Parties that wanted a reference to “banning” the sale of (at least some) smokeless products and those who wanted to “strictly regulate” them. The language adopted essentially leaves the choice up to Parties.
- On ENDS, more commonly known as e-cigarettes, the final decision invites Parties to achieve “at least” four general regulatory objectives and, like the smokeless decision, leaves the details up to individual Parties, which are invited “to consider prohibiting or regulating ENDS/ENNDS, including as tobacco products, medicinal products, consumer products, or other categories, as appropriate, taking into account a high level of protection for human health”.
In Committee B, which deals with institutional and budget matters, we were largely successful in our advocacy, at least on non-trade issues. In particular, the mandate of the “sustainable measures” working group was extended to work on mechanisms of assistance and multi-sectoral coordination (Art 5.2a).
Two important elements were added to the mandate of the WG. First, to examine how to co-ordinate the efforts of all the partners involved in FCTC implementation. Second, to prepare a report for COP7 with “strategic directions and an action plan for implementation assistance”.
This means that at the next COP, the WG should report on implementation assistance that already exists (how it works and which organisations provide it), but also what support is currently unavailable to Parties. The working group will also propose how to improve assistance for Parties that face difficulties with FCTC implementation.
Other Committee B discussions:
- There was a good decision on the relationship between the FCTC COP, the global NCD framework and the post-2015 sustainable development goals. In essence, the COP decided to adopt the goal of reducing tobacco use prevalence by 30 percent by 2025 as its own.
- The COP took a first step towards a proper implementation review mechanism by establishing an expert group that will look at reporting arrangements and options for implementation review.
- With respect to industry presence on official delegations, an issue raised by Djibouti, this has been referred to the Bureau, which will make proposals to the next COP. The most likely solution is a transparency requirement, i.e. that Parties whose delegations include industry representatives must make that affiliation public.
- With respect to the budget, discussions went down to the wire. On travel support, we were partially successful in ensuring that low-resource Parties get support beyond World Health Assembly levels, at least for COP7.
On the last day, the COP also adopted the “Moscow Declaration”. The declaration addresses several different topics, including the NCD agenda and its links to the FCTC, and calls for more work on national tobacco control strategies and plans. It also recognises that the most vulnerable groups are hit hardest by the tobacco epidemic.
The declaration might help particularly in promoting implementation of Art 4.2(d) on gender-specific approaches to tobacco control.
For those who want more details, final versions of decisions will not be posted for a while, but the reports from Committee A and Committee B are available on-line – see:
See also our COP6 resources page