The Union’s stance on tobacco control at COP8

At the eighth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Geneva, ministers, officials and representatives from over 180 governments, United Nations agencies, international intergovernmental organisations and representatives met to discuss the future of tobacco control on the road to a healthier and sustainable world.

The Union took the following position on several key areas when attending the conference:

Independent and non-partisan testing of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENNDS) and other new technologies

Given there is no clear evidence of benefits, and growing reports on the risks of ENDS/ENNDS, The Union recommends Parties to conduct rigorous, ethical research – independent of the tobacco industry – to assess the efficacy of new technologies for harm reduction for diverse types of tobacco use and prevalence.

The Union urges global, non-partisan and independent research agencies like the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to prepare a monograph and the European Union (based on EU Regulation No 536/2014 of 16 April 2014) and US FDA to prepare clinical trial guidelines that present clear benefits of new technologies to public health.

Focus on gender-focused strategies

The Union supports the call to integrate gender and tobacco control, which will accelerate Parties in achieving their SDGs targets and goals. The tobacco industry is targeting women, especially young women and those within vulnerable groups. Gender-focused tobacco control will contribute significantly to meeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and applies to all Parties of the COP, rich and poor. This approach recognises the crucial relationship between health, poverty, education, gender and many other issues that must be addressed in an integrated way.

Independent assessment of Heated Tobacco Products (HTP)

The potential benefits and risks from HTP to the public health remain undetermined, but recent independent research suggests that the tobacco industry is understating the risks while overstating its benefits. The Union recommends that governments apply the precautionary principle to the regulation of HTP.

Countries should wait for independent assessment of the health effects of HTP from large, independent and rigorous studies before permitting their sale. More details on The Union's position on HTP.

Integrating FCTC with human rights will advance tobacco control

The Union supports joint work between the FCTC Convention Secretariat and the United Nations, along with other multilateral and development agencies, to advance human rights issues that are flagrantly violated by the tobacco industry.  

The Union supports the WHO-TFI and the Convention Secretariat to develop a strategy along with experts from human rights bodies and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a state-of-the-art report to document human right violations in tobacco cultivation, tobacco trade and marketing; and develop a human rights mechanisms that can accelerate FCTC implementation, including the Human Rights Council and the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights.

The Union supports the participation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as an observer to the FCTC process. OHCHR is a critical agency which can advance the debate on tobacco industry's use of tax havens to stash their earnings, and avoiding taxation by manipulating global trade arrangements.

Global agreement on Tobacco Advertisement, Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS)

The Union recommends a global agreement on a ban on all forms of cross-border TAPS. There is an urgent need to monitor and act on TAPS violations in social and new media in each country. The Convention Secretariat may commission a study of global best practices to counter cross-border TAPS. The Union recommends establishing a global knowledge hub for cross-border TAPS which will deploy experts to monitor TAPS violations by advertising and promotion agencies, media partners, public relation firms and celebrities who endorse tobacco products.