Draft protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products

Illicit trade in tobacco products increases the accessibility and affordability of such products, thus contributing to the spread of the tobacco epidemic. It is a global problem with serious consequences for health. Furthermore, it undermines national economies and governments’ tobacco control policies.

The draft protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco product sets the rules for combating illegal trade through the control of the supply chain. It also establishes what actions constitute unlawful conduct and sets out related enforcement and international cooperation measures.

Under the protocol, a global tracking and tracing system for tobacco products would be established, and measures in areas such as licensing, information-sharing and mutual legal assistance would be put into effect.

After four years of negotiations and the participation of more than 135 Parties, on 4 April 2012 the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on a Protocol on Illicit Trade (INB) agreed on a draft text for the protocol. This was the result of extensive negotiations and the high political commitment and determination of Parties to develop a strong international instrument to counteract and eventually to eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco products that poses such a challenge to public health.

The text of the draft protocol is being submitted to the fifth session of the COP (12–17 November 2012, Seoul, Republic of Korea) for consideration and adoption. Once adopted, it would become the first Protocol to the WHO FCTC and therefore an international treaty in itself. The Protocol would enter into force after 40 ratifications.

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