Info Service on Health Issues (July 07/01)
WHO tackles illicit tobacco trade
At the recent second Conference
of Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control member
states decided to launch negotiations on a protocol on the illicit trade
of tobacco products and adopt guidelines to establish 100% smoke-free
places. The article below is reproduced with the permission of South-North
Development Monitor (SUNS) #6288, 9 July 2007.
Health: WHO takes up illicit
tobacco trade, smoke-free environments
By Kanaga Raja, Geneva,
6 July 2007
The parties to the World
Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)
have unanimously decided to begin negotiating a protocol on the illicit
trade of tobacco products and adopt guidelines that stipulate 100% smoke-free
places and workplaces.
According to a WHO press release, the decisions were taken at a meeting
in Bangkok this week (30 June-6
July) of the Second Conference of Parties, the governing body of the
convention on tobacco control.
The meeting was convened to set a work agenda for the coming two years
and report on progress since the first session of the conference in
"I congratulate the Parties for accomplishing all major objectives
scheduled on the programme of work," said Conference President
Juan Martabit of Chile.
"The degree of engagement, respectful discussion and commitment
by all to reach these very productive outcomes remained exemplary throughout
the entire Conference."
"It is important that we do not lose precious momentum started
by the expert group on the illicit trade issue," said Dr Haik Nikogosian,
Head of the Convention Secretariat.
"This transnational phenomenon negatively affects national security
and economics, as well as public and personal health in many countries,"
"This Treaty enables countries to combat the complex threats tobacco
poses to human health, such as illicit trade of tobacco products, through
international law, including through negotiation of a special protocol
like the one launched during this session."
Apart from launching negotiations on a protocol on the illicit trade
of tobacco products, the other key decision taken was the adoption by
parties of guidelines on protection from exposure to second-hand tobacco
The guidelines, which were adopted unanimously on the Conference's second
day, give national and local governments clear direction to establish
"Sound science proves there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand
tobacco smoke," said Dr Douglas Bettcher, Head of the WHO Tobacco
"We are working harder than ever with governments, civil society
and other public health experts to denormalize tobacco, and smoke-free
environments are one of the key measures to bring about this major shift
in social norms to save millions of lives in coming decades."
Other decisions taken at the Bangkok
meeting were to begin work on guidelines related to packaging and labelling
of tobacco products, and tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
between now and the third session of the conference, scheduled for next
year in South Africa.
The Conference also decided to strengthen support to Parties in need,
to develop projects for financial assistance in implementing the Framework
Since its entry into force on 27 February 2005, the Framework Convention
has become one of the most widely embraced treaties in the history of
the United Nations.
Delegates from 129 of the eligible 146 Parties attended the session.
Other states - including signatories to the treaty - as well as non-governmental
organizations in official relations with WHO and intergovernmental organizations
participated as observers.
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