UN Treaty will help countries shutdown illegal tobacco trafficking

Ambitious plans to target the illegal tobacco trade has gathered pace this week. If adopted, a new UN Protocol will help reduce health problems linked to smoking illicit cigarettes, protect vital tax revenues and hit the profits of international criminal gangs. According to European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva, the announcement that the EU is signing up to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control`s Protocol is bound to encourage other countries to join the global action.

With formal confirmation from Brussels, it makes the European Commission the 19th Party to the Protocol. At an event marking the occasion, Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of the Convention Secretariat, World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control said, “It’s not only a positive step the European Union is taking, but it sends a global signal that decisive action can definitely be taken if we are to reduce the harm caused by the illicit tobacco trade.”

EU, UK and India victories show that the tobacco industry is not a respectable player

The European Union (EU) Court of Justice, the United Kingdom (UK) High Court and the Indian Supreme Court have recently decided landmark cases against four of the world’s largest tobacco companies. The cases centered on tobacco control regulations, such as labelling and packaging of tobacco products—including health warnings, the prohibition of flavored cigarettes and special rules for electronic cigarettes. The three Courts confirmed that the tobacco regulations in question were lawful, especially in light of current, robust evidence regarding the harms of tobacco use and the necessity for its regulation. Pointedly, the EU Court of Justice and the UK High Court specifically used the obligations established by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in the rulings, underscoring its legal significance in protecting public health.

These decisions are most timely considering that the EU anti-smuggling and anti-counterfeiting deal with Philip Morris International (PMI) will expire in July 2016. These crucial decisions accentuate the fact that this tobacco agreement is deeply flawed and will not help address the current global tobacco epidemic. As such, the European Commission (EC) should not renew this deal; rather Member States should ratify the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products—an internationally legitimate method of addressing smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products.

Plain packaging: a key part to successful implementation of the UN tobacco control treaty

Source: Action on Smoking and Health.
The image conforms to the requirements of the EU Tobacco Products Directive and UK law on standardised packaging.

On World No Tobacco Day 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls on Governments around the world to implement one simple measure with proven effectiveness in tobacco control: the plain packaging of tobacco products. Recent moves by countries to introduce it represent a welcome step that is already proving it can reduce demand for these deadly products and, in turn, save lives, according to the WHO and the Secretariat of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

The third session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC approved, in 2008, the Guidelines for implementation of Article 11, which recommend that Parties should consider adopting measures to restrict or prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names displayed in a standard colour and font style, known as plain packaging. The same session of COP approved the Guidelines for implementation of Article 13, which affirm that the effect of advertising or promotion on packaging can be eliminated by requiring plain packaging.

WHO FCTC NEWS

Contact us

Fax: +41 22 791 5830
fctcsecretariat@who.int