COP is expected to take up two sessions today, finishing in the evening. We had reported yesterday that there were still a lot of agenda items to get through.
Philippines is the latest country to be dignified with a ‘dirty ashtray’ award, for ‘its brazen use of tobacco industry tactics of obstinate dispute and delay throughout the COP’. The Philippines is included in our Interesting country statements article, their statement at the livestreamed debate included:
‘we emphasize the importance of a tailored multi-sectoral approach to FCTC implementation, acknowledging Article 1D of FCTC, varying national context and priorities, and domestic legislation.’ The link to the Philippines statement is here.
GATC indignation The GATC bulletin displays a palpable sense of indignation. Frustrated that the decision on articles 9 & 10 was deferred to COP11, the editorial complained of “just the amount of diversion and distraction that seemed intentionally disruptive at times.”
The author was particularly irritated that the term “harm reduction” was used. The adoring FCTC fan club has deluded itself that harm reduction is a tobacco industry fabrication rather than a real life concept with its own Wikipedia page and is an obligation (much ignored) of the FCTC treaty in article 1d of the preamble.
The editorial also claimed that parties were “confused” about the difference between a working group and an expert group. To clarify for our readers, the former is a group open to all Parties to join, whereas the latter is a group of so-called ‘experts’ cherry-picked by the Convention Secretariat to force through its perverse ideology. See Clive Bates’ Commentary on the annotated agenda (page 5) for more on that.
GATC’s assessment of the week
The bulletin also carries an account of the experience of a first-time COP attendee from the Philippines. Having been suitably brainwashed, she moaned about how delegates had not clamped down hard enough on “electronic smoking devices”.
“Clearly, the tobacco industry is creating a new generation of nicotine addiction with these emerging products”, she claimed, blissfully ignorant of the fact that tobacco companies provide a tiny proportion of the vaping market and that the products have been saving millions of lives worldwide.
Remember, you are paying for this delusion through your taxes.
Will there be any live streaming from COP10 today? This tile has appeared on the COP10 website, so it looks as though a press conference will be streamed:
We had thought that the final session might be streamed, and perhaps it will. However, it is unlikely to be as interesting as the debate we saw on days one and two this week, which featured the statements from some of the Parties.
The announcement of where COP11 will be held will come later. That honour probably won’t be going to a Dirty Ashtray award winner.
From the Journal we learn that ‘Implementation of Articles 9 & 10’ (agenda item 6.1) is still unresolved; Committee A will be dealing with it yet again today. We reported on this several times this week. If you are in Committee A and you are reading this – do look at page 5 of Clive Bates’ Commentary on the annotated agenda for a succinct outline of the issues.
Committee A is also discussing ‘Novel and emerging tobacco products’ (agenda item 6.3) today. Again, if anyone from Committee A is here, do read pages 9-11 of Clive Bates’ Commentary on the annotated agenda for his expert view on that.
Both Committees have had evening sessions added, in order to get through their business. It is good to see that the agenda items are being properly discussed, and the WHO and Secretariat’s proposals are not just being waved through.
According to the Programme of work in today’s Journal, the plan is to clear agenda items up to and including item 8. That would leave what are basically announcements for the plenary / closing session tomorrow. According to the Preliminary Journal, tomorrow’s plenary session will be held either in the morning or in the afternoon:
We just hope that Red Bull is on hand – there is still a lot of business to get through.
The thorny issue of harm reduction at COP10
It is evident that the prohibitionists at COP are getting a hard time over the issue of tobacco harm reduction (THR). Many of the statements made by Parties in the livestreamed debate referenced it, suggesting trouble ahead for those who want harsh restrictions applied to safer nicotine products. The NGO’s are on the back foot. The European Respiratory Society (ERS) felt compelled to put out a statement on THR this week, asserting that ‘it cannot recommend “harm reduction” as a population-based strategy to reduce smoking and aid quitting’. (Sorry, ERS, the ship has already sailed: there are millions of us globally who have left smoking behind, thanks to THR.)
GATC published an article titled ‘Harm reduction is at the heart of the treaty’ in their latest bulletin. Those of us who practise THR would agree that harm reduction is central to the treaty – after all, it is covered in article 1 d of the FCTC:
Image credit: @vapingit
However, that is all we can agree with in GATC’s article, in which they appear to misunderstand what harm reduction is about, let alone THR.
‘the tobacco control community should not reject the idea of harm reduction per se but we should learn from the best practices of proven public health oriented measures while preventing the tobacco industry from hijacking that important term’
Go Guyana! Guyana is in GATC’s bad books today, for ‘repeated grandstanding, time-wasting interventions that ignored legal advice on the content of the FCTC and rules of procedure of the COP’.
Country statements – videos sCOPe has compiled a YouTube playlist with the videos of the statements made by countries in Asia Pacific. Watch (and share!) those from here: CoP 10 Country Statements – Asia Pacific
The Journal includes an overview of what business the COP will address for the day, and a report on the previous day. From the report section, we see that Committee A’s deliberations over agenda item 6.1, concerning Articles 9 & 10, are still not resolved:
Also, that two agenda items have now been transferred from Committee A to Committee B – an indication that the discussions over item 6.1 are taking much longer than anticipated.
We have also noticed that the Decisions section on the COP10 website has no documents from this week- is this because no decisions have been made, or because decisions haven’t yet been published?
Media coverage on COP10 Media interest in COP is picking up a bit. This article from ULYS media in Kazakhstan describes an incident during one of the live streamed sessions:
“Jamilya Sadykova, a well-known anti-tobacco activist in Kazakhstan, appeared on the monitor and took a place in the delegation hall with representatives of our country. In this peculiar queue to the podium of the conference, she, violating etiquette, tried to attract attention to herself and tried to communicate with the head of the Kazakh delegation from the Ministry of Health.
– This is not the first time. There have already been similar incidents at other COPs when Jamilya took it upon herself to make statements on behalf of the Republic of Kazakhstan, explain members of the delegation.
They are trying to understand what goals Sadykova is pursuing and assume that these are her personal interests associated with private organizations and the American billionaire Michael Bloomberg.”
Delegates behaving badly at COP, who knew?! Do read the full article, it also reports on demonstrations by farmers outside the Convention Centre.
Panama authorities T-shirt crackdown There was a commotion on Tuesday as Panamanian authorities flexed their muscles. Panama Radio reported that “the Public Health team of the Metropolitan Health Region carried out an operation in four hotels in the town after a complaint about the distribution of pamphlets and t-shirts focused on the consumption of tobacco and its derivatives.” This was apparently unacceptable “because it affects the public health of the population.”
Copwatch has discovered the nature of these lethal materials. They are t-shirts worn by vaping consumer advocates and flyers produced by consumer associations to be handed out to delegates at COP explaining salient points of harm reduction and politely asking them to consider consumer concerns. The Panamanian public are no doubt reassured that the full force of the state has been employed to stamp out such dangerous threats to the safety of the country’s citizens.
Copwatch understands that the Good COP event at the Central Panama Hotel in Casco Viejo was visited by representatives of the Bloomberg-funded Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids yesterday. They were greeted by Taxpayers Protection Alliance staff and invited to register for the event. Sadly, they left soon after but we hear their names are recorded at the TPA reception desk and their lanyards are available to pick up at their convenience.
The agenda items included in yesterday’s Journal included several for Committee A, under ‘Item 6 Treaty and technical matters’. This included item 6.1 Implementation of Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO FCTC.
We wrote about this agenda item in our update yesterday, asking: Will Parties relinquish control to the Expert group (Articles 9 & 10)? From the GATC bulletin Day 4 we learn that there has been a struggle in Committee A. GATC is very annoyed 😂
“We appeared to be in some sort of dystopian COP yesterday in Committee A – was anyone else in the same alternate universe we were in? A world where COP Rules of Procedure can be blatantly ignored, the scope of FCTC Articles magically expanded, advice from WHO legal rejected and the entire history of how the COP operates forgotten or thrown out the window?”
The discussions over Articles 9 & 10 did not go according to the Canadian NGO’s plan:
“We would like to take this opportunity to remind Parties of the necessity of adopting the proposed draft decision in relation to Articles 9 and 10”
The discussion has taken up a day and a half!
That draft decision includes Parties surrendering control to an Expert group, on a very weak mandate. In reference to this Clive Bates wrote:
Copwatch is delighted to hear that Committee A is discussing this thoroughly. It is a relief to hear that some Parties in Committee A are conscientiously considering decisions which affect millions of lives – and not being railroaded by the Secretariat, the Bureau and unelected NGOs.
Country statements Of huge interest to COPWATCH’s consumer advocate audience has been the statements given by the countries, during agenda item 5. These have been live streamed over days one and two.
All three videos can still be viewed on the COP10 home page, look for these tiles:
Countries gave statements during agenda item 5 at COP10. These were live streamed over days one and two. At the time of writing the videos were accessible via the COP10 homepage. We posted the full transcripts here: 1, 2, 3.
In this article we post the individual statements which we think are interesting, with a brief explanation of why we have included them. Are there any other statements you think we should include? Let us know.
Armenia – asks for harm reduction to be considered: “we believe that alternative methods of reducing the negative health impacts of smoking should be considered on the firm basis of scientific research and conclusions in order to take informed decisions on how to minimize the harm of smoking within that particular segment of our society.” Link to statement, here
Canada – no mention is made of harm reduction, conflicts with the national policy? Link to statement, here
El Salvador – asks for further studies and information to analyse the impact of novel products Link to statement, here
Guatemala – raises a point of order over how consensus is reached at COP Link to statement, here
Guyana – calls for a ‘serious and evidence-based discourse on harm reduction’ Link to statement, here
New Zealand – states that their national approach ‘involves a considered implementation of evidence-based harm reduction measures’ Link to statement, here
Philippines – ‘we emphasize the importance of a tailored multi-sectoral approach toFCTC implementation, acknowledging Article 1D of FCTC, varying national contextand priorities, and domestic legislation.’ Link to statement, here
St Kitts and Nevis – ‘‘the tobacco control community should not reject the idea of harmreduction per se but we should learn from the best practices of proven public healthoriented measures while preventing the tobacco industry from hijacking that important term’, calls for a working group to be established Link to statement, here
United Kingdom – no mention is made of harm reduction, conflicts with the national policy? Link to statement, here
Live streaming of the country statements Yesterday was Day 2 of FCTC COP10 in Panama. Tobacco harm reduction advocates were pleased to see some transparency brought to the proceedings, with the continued live streaming of the country statements at item 5 (videos are on the COP10 website). As with Day 1, there was no indication given of when the live streaming would start, but we were nonetheless pleased when it finally started blaring out of our devices.
Yesterday we published a transcript of Day 1’s live streamed session, you can find that here. We hope today to publish a transcript of Day 2. Highlights were St Kitts and Nevis, Armenia, El Salvador, the Philippines. The United Kingdom’s statement was disappointing, and seemed to go against assurances that minister Andrea Leadsom had made to MPs, just a few weeks ago. We’ll bring you more on those country statements another time.
GATC updates (why not spend some Bloombucks on a better website?) The official propaganda mouthpiece of COP, GATC, is finally chucking out some semi informative articles. It’s just a shame that their newly revamped website is impossible to navigate. Despite Parties having the decision making powers, the tone of the GATC updates is of irritation. GATC – an unaccountable and unelected NGO – sounds annoyed that Parties might not do as they wish them to do. Of course, GATC knows best! And, those pesky Parties will keep trying to mess with the agenda!
Oh, the irony……
We only had a few agenda items to get through today, notably adopting the agenda, and even that proved to be extremely difficult. Day 1 of COP10 started off with Parties proposing to merge agenda items in an attempt to be more efficient. While in reality, the discussion had the opposite effect and consumed valuable time. We all witnessed the frustrating impact of time spent discussing issues with no productive outcomes. Today was very instructive on how the rest of the week should not be conducted.
February 6, 2024 – A typical day at the Conference of the Parties begins very early and ends very late, and today was no different.
At 7:00 AM, ASH begins by meeting with our civil society allies to discuss strategy for the day. Starting at 9:00 AM, we attend meetings with country Parties. The official Committee meetings begin mid-morning and run late into the evening. ASH is here to listen, take notes, engage with Parties and civil society partners, and occasionally make interventions to advocate for our priorities.
Will Parties relinquish control to the Expert group (Articles 9 & 10)?
Having denied Observer status or even entry to the public gallery to thousands of members of the public and grass roots advocates, we see a continued attempt at COP to show that ‘civil society’ supports what the unaccountable NGOs want at COP10.
As with the Participants list, Bloomberg funding is obvious – but we don’t have time to research whether that applies to absolutely all of them. What is clear though is that GATC has played a leading role in assembling them:
“It’s simple: if a COP party or member-country sticks to the agenda and closely aligns itself with the WHO FCTC’s proposed policies, they are given an Orchid Award. On the other hand, if a country ventures to speak about tobacco as a positive force economically or attempts to present proven science on less harmful alternatives to smoking, then they are given the odious-sounding Dirty Ashtray Award.”
We have now generated a transcript from the livestream video of the opening session – LINK to ‘COP10 opening session transcription’. Please note that it is unedited and might contain errors. The video itself is still accessible on the COP10 homepage – look for ‘Live streaming’.
Statements made by some of the Parties yesterday – EU, China, New Zealand, the Philippines, the UK (disappointing!) – are especially interesting to read. Those statements appear towards the end, so scroll down.
COP business resumes today with this general debate, starting at 10 a.m. :
However, you could be forgiven for forgetting that – so far COP10 is a Bloomberg fest.
Here’s some of what we observed of COP10 on Day 1, from our position firmly outside the tent.
The five hour delay
The opening session in Panama was to be livestreamed, from 10.00am ET. However, without any official explanation, the livestream didn’t start until 5 ½ hours later.
Why so late? We can only guess that the exclusion from COP of democratically elected congressmen from Brazil, and the involvement of the Brazilian ambassador, had something to do with it. We imagine that Panama would not welcome a diplomatic incident with Brazil.
“The expectation is to return the accreditation by the end of the day. A meeting on the evening of this Monday, 5th, between state deputies Marcus Vinícius de Almeida (PP), Edivilson Brum (MDB), Zé Nunes (PT) and Silvana Covatti (PP) and ambassador Carlos Henrique Moojen de Abreu e Silva seeks to detail the demands and the search for participation in COP10.”
The delay in the livestreaming even confused people inside, with the director of Expose Tobacco retweeting Copwatch (Expose Tobacco does not like Copwatch!).
The official proceedings
We will bring you more on the opening session in a later update. The video for the livestream is still up, on the COP10 homepage – look for ‘live stream’ towards the bottom. We are watching it now – the statements from national delegations are likely to be the most interesting part of the proceedings.
That’s all for now. We’ll finish with our short message to delegates:
Delegates – you are representing your countries. You are the decision makers at COP. We trust you to look behind the propaganda. We trust you to read the official documents, not just what the official NGOs are saying. We trust you to do the right thing for people who smoke and who need access to safer nicotine products to improve their health.
What sessions will be livestreamed? You probably know that FCTC COP is secretive and closed. So, most of the action takes place away from the public gaze. However, sessions at the beginning and end are expected to be livestreamed. This provisional agenda (FCTC/COP/10/1) uses asterisks ( * ) to mark which sessions the Bureau recommends should be livestreamed:
Asterisks in the provisional agenda mark which sessions the Bureau proposes should be livestreamed, in the opening session.
The graphic below has appeared on the COP10 homepage. We assume that clicking on it on the page will take you to the live streamed sessions:
GATC COP bulletins The Global Alliance for Tobacco Control (formerly the Framework Convention Alliance) will be putting out daily bulletins. Although not an official record, the GATC is very much on the inside, so those bulletins will be worth reading. They are again planning to dish out daily Orchid and Ashtray (stigmatising, much?!) awards. Many commentators view those as intended to shame Parties to fall in line with what the Secretariat wants.
“The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is organizing a rapid response and fact checking conference in Panama City, Panama as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) meets for their biennial Conference of the Parties (Bad COP) to discuss tobacco-related issues. TPA’s event “Conference of the People (Good COP)” will bring in experts and consumers, often ignored by WHO, to be heard during the discussion of tobacco and tobacco harm reduction.”
In contrast to FCTC COP10, all the Good COP sessions will be livestreamed and will feature experts in the field of tobacco harm reduction.
The agenda is here – but it is subject to change, as the organisers will be responding to news coming out of COP.