COPWATCH #COP10 articles

Here is a list of Copwatch’s #COP10 articles, listed with the most recent first.

5 – 9 February 2024
Copwatch live
Copwatch live reports during COP10 week

8 February 2024
Interesting country statements made at #COP10
Countries gave statements during agenda item 5 at COP10. These were live streamed over days 1 & 2. In this article we post the individual statements which we think are interesting, with a brief explanation of why we have included them.

4 February 2024
#COP10 is here!
“The official event takes place in the Panama Convention Center. There are also unofficial events taking place, notably the Good COP event. Here we give you information about the official and unofficial events.”

26 January 2024
#COP10 – full steam ahead
“The propaganda assault on safer nicotine products and those who advocate for them is at fever pitch. Bloomberg has poured a lot of money – ‘Bloombucks’ – into attacking tobacco harm reduction and journalists for hire are working overtime to smear anyone who speaks up for it.” 

10 December
#COP10 Catch Up
“Quite a bit happened with COP10 since we last posted. Here we bring you up to speed.
Copwatch had been reporting since April that there was a problem with the contract to put on COP10.”

7 November
Even bigger big trouble in little Panama
“The upshot is that, with less than 2 weeks to go, the WHO has booked a convention centre in which to hold COP10 but has no-one to organise it. Delegates may be arriving in Panama City all dressed up but with nowhere to go.”

3 November
FCTC: Does it work? #COP10
“This supplementary document does a far better job than the ‘main document’(10/4) in describing progress made against the ultimate objective, which is to reduce death and disease from smoking.”

31 October
Another anonymously-written WHO paper is misleading Parties to #COP10
“Two weeks ago, Copwatch drew attention to an anonymously-written paper designed to gaslight Parties at COP10 about disposable vapes. There is a similar attempt at gaslighting going on with a second document in the same series, this time on nicotine pouches.”

27 October
Human rights alert at #COP10
“The FCTC Secretariat is working behind the scenes to impose a narrow view on human rights and tobacco within the UN system and amongst countries (the Parties to the Convention).” 

25 October
A vaper’s call to the delegations to #COP10
“Here we publish a powerful plea from a vaper in the Philippines to the delegates who will be meeting at COP10 in Panama next month.”

23 October
FCTC budget: nice work if you can get it
Here Copwatch brings you what you need to know about the COP10 documents relating to the FCTC budget. This covers three documents:  FCTC/COP/10/17, FCTC/COP/10/18, FCTC/COP/10/19 Rev.1

16 October
The WHO publishes anonymously-written papers designed to gaslight Parties at COP10
Copwatch has detailed many instances of the WHO and FCTC Secretariat playing fast and loose with evidence or cherry-picking research to suit its anti-harm reduction agenda. It is unscientific and shameful but nothing we have not seen before. But two new reports, on disposable vapes and nicotine pouches, have been published on a separate page to the main COP10 menu which seem specifically designed to mislead COP10 delegates based on nothing more than opinion.

10 October
COP10 documents guide: FCTC/COP/10/4
“Produced by the Convention Secretariat, the subject for the report is ‘Global progress in implementation of the WHO FCTC’.”

28 September
Alternative reading list for #COP10 delegates 
COPWATCHERS will notice that tobacco harm reduction is absent from the official documents, with no consideration given to the opportunities offered by safer nicotine products.   Here we have compiled a list of articles to round off the COP10 delegates’ education.

24 August
#COP10 documents guide: FCTC/COP/10/9
“Having airily skipped over the yawning chasm of missing research that they were supposed to have gathered on heated tobacco in just four pages, the FCTC/COP/10/9 document then spends the rest of the 18 pages discussing what bans and restrictions should be put in place.”

18 August
More trouble in little Panama
“In June, Copwatch mentioned, in passing, that a series of nationwide protests and blockades had taken place in COP10 host country, Panama, recently. Cost-of-living concerns, mistrust of government officials, poverty, inequality and corruption have led to much discontent.”

7 August
#COP10 documents guide: FCTC/COP/10/7
“The one where the WHO denies quitting smoking is quitting smoking, and other daydreaming”

3 August
The WHO releases new report on the ‘tobacco epidemic’ and how to maintain it
“Cynical people (unlike those at Copwatch, of course) might assume that there is some cherry-picking going on for inclusion of evidence for the report, while Bloomberg’s anti-nicotine minions are given pay-to-play access to write it”

31 July
The road to FCTC #COP10
“Going from the agenda we can expect a fully packed discussion on substantive items. Readers will remember that COP9 was virtual and that although discussions were tortuous (refresh your memory with our COP live reporting), there was no discussion on ‘substantive items’. This in person COP10 in Panama promises to be a proper bun fight – and we just wonder whether the allotted week will be sufficient.”

29 June
Big trouble in little Panama
“The World Health Organization is often criticised for incompetence in a number of its policy focuses, not solely for its calamitous, head-in-the-sand position on lower-risk alternatives to smoking. But in the practice of handing awards to its buddies, it can only be described as a triumphant global expert”

6 June
Yet another murky WHO meeting
“No-one outside of the WHO FCTC bubble will be allowed to view this latest secret meeting, nor do we expect to see published minutes.”

1 June
Consumer groups challenging the WHO FCTC – Who will be next?
“WHO appointees to the FCTC Bureau and Secretariat have always thrived under the cloak of secrecy they cleverly weaved around preparations for COP conferences. They have been mostly unchallenged when ignoring evidence on the effectiveness of safer nicotine and peddling their anti-harm reduction agenda to member delegations. But it appears consumer groups all around the world are alive to their antics this year.”

9 May
April – victory month for harm reduction
For the first time in UN history the notion of harm reduction appeared in the politically negotiated UN resolution on drug policy. Until then harm reduction had only been mentioned in the context of HIV/AIDS. The resolution adopted at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council mentions a harm reduction approach among other health responses and underlines that support for harm reduction is not qualified as being subject to national legislation.

3 May
Introducing the authors of the COP10 agenda – the FCTC Bureau
“Copwatch decided to investigate by looking at the make-up of the FCTC Bureau, the body which will be writing the agenda. It would be preferable if they published their November and March meeting minutes so we could read the plans first-hand but, as Copwatch reported previously, it seems their typewriter is still at the repairers.”

25 April 
The WHO meetings that never are or were
“Although we know that this GTRF meeting is taking place in India this week, that is all we will ever know. It seems that the WHO has only two rules on the matter. The first rule is that they do not talk about GTRF. The second rule is: they DO NOT talk about GTRF!”

20 April
Who is the new WHO French guy?
“the WHO’s new head of policy on tobacco and nicotine has shown he is incapable of understanding quantitative research, is willing to massage scientific data to hide inconvenient facts, refuses to listen to consumers, and is ideologically opposed to vaping despite its track record of reducing smoking rates in his country.”

11 April
Panamanian party poopers?
“The last Copwatch post reported on Dr. Reina Roa, who has accepted an award from Bloomberg Philanthropies and is now being investigated by Panamanian authorities for “administrative irregularities” over what is a clear conflict of interest in her role as an “independent” adviser to the Ministry of Health.”

3 April
Where’s Bloomby? Check the atlas
“The latest target of Bloomberg’s ongoing programme to influence government policies in low and middle income countries is Panama. Yes, the Panama where COP10 will be held later this year. That Panama.”

23 March
We had a dream….
“Yet again, we will hear whining that there are no safer alternatives to smoking, and that tobacco and nicotine products should be banned. Just not the cigarettes.”

1 March
Where are the FCTC Bureau meeting minutes?
“The second meeting of the FCTC Bureau took place at the end of November 2022, but here we are at the start of March and the minutes of their last meeting have still not been published. Has their typewriter broken?”

1 February
Key milestones for COP10
We provide a graphic of the key milestones leading up to COP10, and opportunities for engagement.

10 February
Is the FCTC’s website now a Bloomboard?
“Yet another day, yet another connection of Bloomberg with the Secretariat of the Framework Convention.”

Even bigger big trouble in little Panama

Chaos reigns in Panama City in the lead up to COP10.

In August, Copwatch reported on disquiet in Panama about the award of $4,881,732.20 to a consortium tasked with organising the COP10 conference. Heavy criticism was directed at the government for spending such a large sum of money on bureaucrats when the country’s health service was struggling to cope.

“My God, with half of that money” complains Medical Director, Fernando Castaneda to La Prensa Panamá, “we can buy incubators for newborns, thousands of medicines, supplies, and equipment to replace all the damaged ones we have.”

Matters have developed further with the revelation last week, again by Panamanian news outlet, La Prensa, that the agreement has now been terminated.

“The Cabinet Council approved annulling the $5 million contract signed between the Ministry of Health (Minsa) and the Cop 10 Consortium to organize a biannual anti-smoking conference of the World Health Organization (WHO).”

Reports suggest that the consortium encountered extra costs and requested a further $2 million from the government. This was, understandably due to the political pressure the award had created, promptly rejected. At which point the consortium, equally promptly, withdrew from the contract. 

The upshot is that, with less than 2 weeks to go, the WHO has booked a convention centre in which to hold COP10 but has no-one to organise it. Delegates may be arriving in Panama City all dressed up but with nowhere to go. 

In other news, many COP delegates may view a possible rescheduling of COP10 with relief. The Panamanian public has been outraged at the recent award of a rumoured $400 billion contract with a Canadian mining company to exploit three square miles of Panamanian rainforest to extract copper. Protesters have been on the streets throughout the country chanting and waving banners with slogans such as “Panama is not for sale”. In Panama City itself, crowds of 30,000 protesters have clashed with the Police and Army using tear gas and what the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice page calls “riot control munition”.

There are fuel, gas, and food shortages and protesters have vowed to continue civil disobedience until the mining contract is cancelled, which does not look likely. Searching Twitter hashtags #Panama and #PanamaProtesta brings up disturbing images of angry chaos in Panama City. 

In June, Copwatch referred to previous protests which lasted for weeks on end. 

“Panama was rocked last year by a series of nationwide protests and blockades. They were prompted by cost-of-living concerns, exacerbated by deep-seated mistrust of government officials accused of feasting on taxpayer funds, and complaints about poverty, inequality and corruption in the country.”

BBC World reports that “Such a level of conflict – as massive as it is prolonged – has not been seen since the time of Manuel Antonio Noriega’s dictatorship” which suggests today’s protesters will be in it for the long run.

With around 1,200 delegates due to arrive in Panama imminently, the WHO must be concerned about how they can guarantee attendee safety, especially as protesters have expressed disappointment that the world’s media is not taking much notice of them. Heaven forbid they find out that high ranking government officials from 190 countries are due to convene at the convention centre in Panama City very soon. 

Copwatch can only imagine these two issues combined must be causing headaches amongst FCTC administrators. Perhaps they can reach out to one of their Pharmaceutical partners for a steady supply of Paracetomol. 

The WHO has had a run of extraordinarily bad luck with COP meetings in recent years. Prior to COP6, there was an Ebola outbreak in Africa and the Russians shot down a passenger plane just before Director General Margaret Chan travelled to Moscow to talk about tobacco with Putin. New Delhi saw the worst smog in living memory which closed 20,000 schools in the week the WHO turned up in the city to talk about the dangers of vaping at COP7. The pandemic wrecked plans for COP9 which had to be delayed by a year and held virtually. Now this for COP10.

Copwatch would like to say we have sympathy for such bad luck but, unlike the WHO, we don’t want to mislead you.

FCTC: Does it work? #COP10

In this article we look at a report posted on the Documentation – Supplementary information page on the FCTC COP10 website.  Authored by the Secretariat, the report is titled: ‘Contribution and impact of implementing the WHO FCTC on achieving the noncommunicable disease global target on the reduction of tobacco use’. This report complements the ‘main document’ titled FCTC/COP/10/4: Global progress in implementation of the FCTC, which we wrote about here

This supplementary document does a far better job than the ‘main document’(10/4) in describing progress made against the ultimate objective, which is to reduce death and disease from smoking.  In contrast, FCTC/COP/10/4 mentions prevalence only twice and smoking is mentioned only once: in the context of the implementation of smoke-free laws.  However, although the report we are discussing today does better at describing the problem, it clearly shows the FCTC is not working.

This supplementary document tells us that global tobacco prevalence is estimated to have fallen from 29% in 2005 to 20% in 2022. What the report doesn’t tell us though, is how much smoking has fallen. Smoking is the key driver of death and disease, not tobacco use per se (just look at Sweden). The major problem here is that the metric is wrong – we need to know what is happening with smoking.

Second, whatever the FCTC is doing, it is not working. Only 30% of the countries which have ratified the FCTC are on track to achieve a decrease in tobacco prevalence by 30% by 2025.

This quote from the supplementary report sums up the situation:

“Trends evident from surveys completed by Parties, with projections to 2025, show that most Parties need to accelerate tobacco control activities in order to achieve the voluntary target of the Global Action Plan 2013–2030 to reduce tobacco use by 30% between 2010 and 2025. While the prevalence of current tobacco use among people 15 or older, averaged across all Parties, is estimated to have declined from 29% in 2005 to 20% in 2022, progress is uneven. Of note, 102 Parties are not on track to achieve the reduction target unless additional policies and stronger policies are urgently put in place and effectively enforced.”

This WHO response will be familiar to Copwatch readers: that we need to do more of the same (things that don’t work) and ban products that could actually help us reduce smoking. We respectfully disagree: Sweden, Norway, Japan, UK and New Zealand are achieving far more rapid progress in reducing smoking because consumers can access life-saving alternatives. Taking away these alternatives not only defies logic and common sense, but will also literally kill people.