Copwatch #COP10 summary

Well – we survived! 
Copwatch has been taking a breather, to digest what happened last month at COP10. Getting confirmation of what had happened took time, because the decisions were slow to arrive on the official website –  presumably written to paint the event in the most positive light possible.

The live coverage on these pages revealed frustration amongst the FCTC ranks which was echoed by the head of the Secretariat, Adriana Blanco Marquizo, remarking at the end of the conference that her organisation had “survived”.

FCTC Pravda hailed “historic decisions” and announced that the meeting was a triumph, as it always does, but articles published by its allies expressed a lot of disappointment

Where were all the delegates? 

Even the FCTC Secretariat’s newsroom couldn’t hide the fact that there were deficiencies with the conference. Over 190 delegations would have been expected to arrive for the original staging in November, but the official record only counted “representatives from 142 Parties” as being in attendance.

Anyone who watched the live streams would have noticed a significant number of empty seats and made that assumption anyway. Copwatch estimates that there were up to 700 delegates missing between FCTC boasts in November and the official count post-event.

All the more amusing, then, that the WHO’s sole anti-vaping holdout in the Philippines, Pia Cayetano, has condemned the “huge” delegation sent by her country. One would have thought that sending a large delegation was a sign of support for the event. Copwatch suspects her objection would not have materialised if the delegates were paid-up members of Cayetano’s anti-harm reduction club rather than selected by the Philippines government to defend its admirable policy of embracing reduced risk products. 

Interesting country statements 

Cayetano was no doubt still seething at the Philippines’ prominent role during country progress statements in the (delayed) opening plenary. The country was one of many which challenged the WHO to consider harm reduction as a valid option to reduce the harms of combustible use. Furthermore, their statement made reference to Article 1(d) of the FCTC treaty which states categorically that harm reduction is one of the pillars of tobacco control, something that the FCTC authorities would rather ignore. 

They were not the only delegation to do so. Disappointed pro-WHO groups moaned that “a number of countries, led by Guatemala and including the Philippines, China, Russia, Antigua and Barbuda, echoed industry talking points.” Translation: They didn’t fall into line with the favoured extremist policies suggested by the WHO.

Copwatch could add New Zealand, Guatemala, Armenia and El Salvador to that list, amongst others, and St Kitts and Nevis who played a starring role. More on that further down. 

What triumphs? 

But firstly, what were the triumphs that Adriana Blanco Marquizo was eager to trumpet?

Article 18
She was most enthused by the consensus achieved over Article 18 on the environment. The decision states that Parties must “have due regard to the protection of the environment and the health of persons in relation to the environment in respect of tobacco cultivation and manufacture within their respective territories.” It is very vague and will be something which is probably already being considered at national level . 

Article 19
Likewise, the consensus decision on Article 19 which recommends Parties “strengthen their criminal and civil liability regimes, including administrative measures, to ensure accountability and deterrence, improve access to justice, and allow for effective remedies for those affected by tobacco harms.” Copwatch wonders what enthusiasm there will be for the many Parties with nationalised tobacco industries to take themselves to court. 

Article 2.1

Article 2.1 was already a part of the treaty, but was bolstered by being included on the agenda. The decision recommends that Parties “identify and describe forward-looking tobacco control measures and measures that expand or intensify approaches to tobacco control as they apply to tobacco products.” Copwatch has a great idea. How about Parties identify harm reduction and the promotion of reduced risk products as a proven way of reducing the harms of combustible tobacco use? It fits the description perfectly. 

Article 13
There was also a decision on Article 13 on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, mostly concerned with tackling posts on digital and social media channels which, again, is being discussed in many countries already. 

Articles 9 & 10

One agenda item on which Parties could not reach consensus was on Articles 9 & 10 regarding regulation of contents and disclosure of tobacco products. Debate was ongoing for the entire week, taking up so much time that other items had to be shifted to the workload of Committee B for the duration. 

An item in the GATC day 2 bulletin, written by Rob Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society and Deborah Arnott of Action on Smoking and Health in the UK, insisted that “Articles 9 and 10 deal with tobacco products, not e-cigarettes or other nicotine products.” Yet the agenda item encouraged delegates to consider report FCTC/COP/10/7 during discussions which, as Copwatch has written before, comments extensively on nicotine pouches and disposable vapes; dishonestly states that there is no evidence vaping can help people quit smoking; that even if they do, it does not constitute smoking cessation; that flavours are only attractive to adolescents; and points delegates to cherry-picked research on reduced risk products in the TobReg9 report. 

Surely that is all wasted work if, as claimed, Articles 9 & 10 are not concerned with novel products? Perhaps this is why St Kitts and Nevis not only argued that the WHO needs to define harm reduction, but also introduced a proposal that Article 1(d) should be taken into account in deliberations over articles 9 & 10. And then the fight started. 

Despite 5 days of debate, no consensus could be reached and they will go through it all again at COP11 next year.

Who wants to host COP11?

All in all, the decisions which reached consensus were rather limp and the conference in general rather underwhelming. Not particularly deserving of the term “historic”.

Finally, Copwatch would have liked to inform our readers where COP11 will be taking place but, sadly, the host country was not announced in the closing plenary. Evidently, there was no interest from any of the Parties and no applications to host were received.  

One wonders what countries don’t find appealing about playing host to a two week opaque talking shop which attracts no tourists or media interest, nor offers infrastructure benefits, but comes with a $5 million price tag.

COP10FCTC LIVE Day Six #COP10news #THRworks

An update from us at COPWATCH, on the final day of COP10. 

Today’s Journal 
The Journal for today is here:
https://storage.googleapis.com/who-fctc-cop10-source/Journals/fctc-cop10-journal-6-en.pdf

At nine pages, it is unusually long. Here are our observations:

  • Articles 9 & 10 (agenda item 6.1) has been postponed to COP11. This is no surprise – we have been reporting all week on how slow the progress on that agenda item has been.
  • There is a lot still to get through in the first session today, and only 3 hours to do it 
  • An item of particular interest to us, Novel and emerging tobacco products (agenda item 6.3) is not resolved and is carried over to today’s business
  • Late evening meetings have been needed to force decisions, including on who the next Head of the Secretariat will be (agenda item 8.8) `

Please let us know if you think we have missed anything interesting.  

There are still no decisions for this week posted on the Decisions page. So, we will keep watching for when those appear. 

Today’s GATC bulletin
From today’s GATC bulletin we learn that:

  • 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. 

COP10FCTC LIVE Day 5 #COP10news #THRworks

COP Live Day 5 update #1

COP10 business

The COP Journals are informative for what business COP is expected to get through that day and for a report on the previous day. Today’s Journal is here:
https://storage.googleapis.com/who-fctc-cop10-source/Journals/fctc-cop10-journal-5-en.pdf

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.   

We hope that COP will heed St Kitts and Nevis, who in the livestreamed debate said that:

‘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’

Yesterday we had included Guyana in our Interesting country statements article, noting that they had called for a ‘serious and evidence-based discourse on harm reduction’. A clue to GATC’s displeasure? 

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

Links

Some of the interesting articles we have seen recently:
WHO FCTC asked to disclose full information on smoke-free products

Bloomberg-funded groups accused of intervening in LMICs’ smoking-cessation strategies

COP 10, Panama și reducerea riscurilor asociate fumatului – între oportunitate și ignoranță 

Surge una corriente de rechazo a la oposición de la OMS a los productos de tabaco sin humo: “Sin soporte científico”

Tobaccoharmreduction.net has these reports from earlier in the week:
Navigating Tensions: Pragmatism vs. Ideology at COP10’s Midpoint
SHIFTING POLICY GOALS: CHALLENGES IN TOBACCO CONTROL AT COP10 SESSIONS

Unofficial COP events

It’s the last day of Good COP. The event so far has been excellent. Check out the agenda here:
https://www.protectingtaxpayers.org/cop10-program/

Catch up on any sessions you have missed on TPA’s YouTube and the RegWatch channel.

That’s all from us, for now

COP10FCTC LIVE Day 3/4 #COP10news #THRworks

COP Live Days 3 & 4 update #2

COP10  business
So, today’s Journal eventually got published, shortly before the sessions started for the day.  
https://storage.googleapis.com/who-fctc-cop10-source/Journals/fctc-cop10-journal-4-en.pdf

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? 

Interesting country statements
We have recently published this article with a selection of individual country statements:
https://copwatch.info/interesting-country-statements-made-at-cop10/

Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, New Zealand, Philippines, St Kitts and Nevis and the United Kingdom are all featured in there, and we have linked to a separate image file for each statement.  

NGOs behaving badly
We are so bored of writing about them but they will keep on doing awful stuff.  

GATC tweeted its Golden Orchid and Dirty Ashtray awards just before the sessions started – clearly intended to intimidate the Parties as they got down to COP business:

We assume that Singapore has been obediently pushing for the Expert group – see our earlier update for more on that. However, we have no idea what the Dominican Republic’s perceived sins are.  

NB our DM’s are open 😉

Outrage over the merch we reported on at our last update is growing, with Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos furiously quote tweeting the Spanish minister:  

https://twitter.com/FarsalinosK/status/1755453717929771076

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. 

Vaping360 has published this excellent analysis of COP10, highly recommended reading:  
https://vaping360.com/vape-news/128865/cop-10-where-tobacco-control-plays-for-keeps-with-your-life/

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.


CTFK pays #GoodCOP a visit

For more on the public health operation see:  
COP 10 in Panama: Police operations against harm reduction advocates/COP 10 au Panama : Opérations de police contre des défenseurs de la réduction des risques (Vapolitique)

Pro-vaping organizations challenge COP10/Organizaciones provapeo desafían a la COP10

https://adiariocr.com/salud/organizaciones-provapeo-desafian-a-la-cop10/

We’ll bring you more from #COP10 tomorrow!

COP Live Days 3 & 4 update #1

What’s going on in Committee A? 

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: 

“Parties should not allow themselves to be excluded by experts chosen by WHO’s bureaucrats”
Commentary on the Annotated Agenda (V2.3) Clive Bates,Counterfactual, taken from page 5

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: 

We now have the transcripts for both streamed sessions from COP10 Day 2, and the streamed session from COP10 Day 1. Here are the links to those transcripts: Item 3 & 4 – Item 5 (Part 1), Item 5 (Part 2), Item 5 (Part 3)  

Later we will bring you excerpts from the transcripts, highlighting those statements which mention harm reduction. 

If anyone is producing video clips of the individual country statements please let us know – we would love to include those in upcoming Copwatch updates

There is no link between vaping and cancer

Vejpkollen tweeted this image, noting that it was first tweeted by a Spanish health minister 😭 We assume that it is merch being handed out by an official COP10 NGO. This is horrifying! There is no link between vaping and cancer. The only study which purported to find one had to be retracted. Health NGOs should not be misinforming about cancer risks.


https://twitter.com/vejpkollen/status/1755358202240098635

Official COP10 side events

Organised by the Bloomberg funded NGOs and designed to pressurise the Parties, it is good to see that these official side events are getting a healthy reaction on social media.

https://twitter.com/GrimmGreen/status/1755012685417373874

Unofficial COP events

1 Good COP is on again today. The event so far has been superb.  Check out the agenda here:
https://www.protectingtaxpayers.org/cop10-program/

Catch up on any sessions you have missed on TPA’s YouTube and the RegWatch channel.

2  An excellent article has been published about the Segundo Foro Latinoamericano Nicotina y Reducción de Riesgo event, which took place on Tuesday:
Regulación diferenciada en productos con nicotina enciende debate en Costa Rica y la región  (Differentiated regulation of nicotine products sparks debate in Costa Rica and the region)
https://observador.cr/regulacion-diferenciada-en-productos-con-nicotina-enciende-debate-en-costa-rica-y-la-region/

Interesting country statements made at #COP10

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 to FCTC implementation, acknowledging Article 1D of FCTC, varying national context and priorities, and domestic legislation.’
Link to statement, here

St Kitts and Nevis ‘‘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’, 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

COP10FCTC LIVE Day 2/3 #COP10news #THRworks

COP Live Days 2 & 3 update #1

At the time of writing the Journal for today had still not been published. It should appear here, eventually:
https://storage.googleapis.com/who-fctc-cop10/Journals/index.html. (Edit: here it is: https://storage.googleapis.com/who-fctc-cop10-source/Journals/fctc-cop10-journal-3-en.pdf)

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! 

DAY 1

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.

From ‘DAY 1’ https://gatc-cop10-bulletin.my.canva.site/day2#orchid-and-dirty-ashtray

This smug ASH update is also blatant about the NGO’s mission to influence Parties: 

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)?

A ‘day 2’ update in the GATC COP bulletin is written by tobacco controllers Deborah Arnott and Rob Cunningham.. The point of the article is to ‘urge’ Parties to give away some of their powers.  

“One of the critical decisions Parties will make this week is whether to approve the creation of an Expert Group for Articles 9 and 10…”  

Here is what Clive Bates wrote about that proposal:

Commentary on the Annotated Agenda (V2.3) Clive Bates, Counterfactual, taken from page 5

And, this is taken from GSTHR’s Briefing Paper on the COP10 agenda:

Taken from: The FCTC COP10 Agenda and supporting documents: implications for the future of tobacco harm reduction

The propaganda machine chugs on

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. 

The groups involved are listed at the bottom of this letter: 
https://ggtc.world/knowledge/sustainability-and-human-rights/global-youth-voices-statement-october-2023

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:

“Our organizations have been building their capacity with the help of Global Center for Good      Governance in Tobacco Control resources and support since 2020”
Taken from: https://gatc-cop10-bulletin.my.canva.site/day2#global-youth-voices-what-brought-us-to-cop10

We see that Global Youth Voices will be joining the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) for a side event on Thursday.  

Why do these people have more of a right to attend COP10 than those with lived experience of using nicotine? 

Awards 

It wouldn’t be COP without bribes awards! 

Global Tobacco Index Integrity award
GGTC (not GATC, but forgive yourself if you get them confused) has awarded this to Brunei:

As an advocate points out, this is despite smoking prevalence rates in Brunei having been stuck at 16% since 2000:

A reminder that FCTC’s COP is no longer about reducing smoking. 

Dirty Ashtray / Orchid awards

GATC has been busy dishing out their notorious awards:


https://gatc-cop10-bulletin.my.canva.site/day2


https://gatc-cop10-bulletin.my.canva.site/day3

It is outrageous that the GATC – an unaccountable NGO – can seek to influence proceedings in this way. We hope that other parties will not take note. 

Do read this excellent article from Philstar on the Orchids and Ashtrays: Absurdity at its worst

“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.”

Unofficial COP10 events 

The Segundo Foro Latinoamericano Nicotina y Reducción de Riesgo took place yesterday, watch that here: 
https://www.youtube.com/live/-K2RVE4yZMs?si=kdrNk98UIreRvYHS

Skip Murray’s Twitter thread for the Good COP fun later today:
https://twitter.com/imaracingmom/status/1755160790754070996

Day 2 of Good Cop from the TPA:
https://www.youtube.com/@ProtectingTaxpayers

Day 2 of Good Cop from Regulator Watch:
https://regulatorwatch.com/brent_stafford/day-2-good-cop-bad-cop-day-2-regwatch-live/

COP10FCTC LIVE Day One #COP10news #THRworks

COP Live Day 1 update #2

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. : 


(taken from the annotated agenda)  

Also see Journal 2 for today’s COP10 business: 
https://storage.googleapis.com/who-fctc-cop10-source/Journals/fctc-cop10-journal-2-en.pdf

Keep a watch on the ‘Live streaming’ section on the COP10 homepage, in case there is more streaming today.  

And…

Also now underway in Panama: Segundo Foro Latinoamericano Nicotina y Reducción de Riesgo (Second Latin American Nicotine and Risk Reduction Forum)

Also, TPA’s summary of the first day of their Good COP event: is now out:
https://www.protectingtaxpayers.org/e-cigarettes/opening-day-of-good-cop-live-in-panama/

And, Tobaccoharmreduction net will be putting out daily updates during COP week: 
https://www.tobaccoharmreduction.net/updates

DAY 1 UPDATE #1

Welcome to COP Live, where Copwatch will be reporting on FCTC COP10 – AKA The Bloomberg Convention on Tobacco Control

We’ll begin with a reminder that the decision makers at COP are the national governments – not the FCTC Secretariat, not the Bureau, not the NGOs, not the journalists.  

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.  

For more on that see this article from https://olajornal.com.br/:

https://olajornal.com.br/deputados-representantes-do-governo-do-rs-aguardam-credenciamento-na-cop10

“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.” 

(Google translate, from here)

Watch this video from El Mono Vapeador, filmed before security guards ejected him from the Convention Centre.  Includes an interview with some of those trying to get admitted to COP.


El Mono Vapeador after being ejected by security guards at #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.

The Secretariat put out this press release, when COP finally opened:
https://fctc.who.int/newsroom/news/item/05-02-2024-global-tobacco-control-conference-opens-in-panama

The updated participants list for COP had been published much earlier:
https://storage.googleapis.com/who-fctc-cop10-source/Additional%20documents%20-%20Diverse/fctc-cop10-div-1-en.pdf

As was the Journal for Day 1:
https://storage.googleapis.com/who-fctc-cop10-source/Journals/fctc-cop10-journal-1-resumed-en.pdf

The Bloomberg Convention on Tobacco Control

Copwatch had already sounded the alarm that a significant proportion of the accredited Observers are Bloomberg funded NGOs.  

It is even worse than we thought.  

There’s a Bloomberg Stasi detail:

Bloomberg is supplying astroturf too:

And, of course, the expected propaganda:

The GATC (formerly FCA) is putting out daily propaganda bulletins. So far we haven’t seen anything which could be classed as ‘news’.   

The Conference of the People

In contrast to #COP10, the TPA’s #GoodCOP event did start on time. You can catch up on the excellent discussions on the TPA’s YouTube channel and the RegWatch channel. Skip Murray’s excellent Twitter thread is worth looking at too. 

Keep an eye on the #GoodCOP page for the agenda for their discussions later today:

https://www.protectingtaxpayers.org/cop10/

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.

#COP9 LIVE 12 November 2021 #COP9news #THRworks

COPWATCH LIVE’S FINAL #COP9 UPDATE

A very special event happened today, COP9 livestreamed its final session! The public was afforded a rare glimpse into the secret meeting that we are not allowed to attend. All decisions had already been made by then, of course.

The main announcement was that the next COP meeting will take place in Panama in 2023. The Panamanian Minister for Health delivered a speech while a video played showing some of the sights of the country. 


Panama City via unsplash, image credit Yosi Bitran @ybitran

Dr Adriana Blanco Marquizo was re-elected as Head of the FCTC Secretariat and gave a speech which acknowledged that COP9 had experienced many technical issues, saying that sometimes discussions literally got lost in translation. She also spoke about the exciting possibilities for the FCTC now they are able to “invite investors” to help with their funding. She boasted that COP9 had allowed journalists “from around the world” to sit in on their meetings, something that should really go without saying. For the FCTC, it seems transparency is a privilege to be granted rather than a right. It was interesting that she also affirmed that it is the parties who make the decisions.

The EU spokesperson announced that the Italian Ministry of Health is donating 130k euros to fund work into the Expert Group on Articles 9 &10 and also for the knowledge hubs.  

Elections were held for officials to serve up to COP10, with Eswatini made Chair and Oman, Netherlands, Uruguay, Sri Lanka and Australia filling the other committee places. 

All that is left for this COP is for the FCTC to hold a press conference which we understand will take place later today, presumably secretly and in front of the accredited journalists in their bedrooms with their pyjamas on. Published articles are still as rare as hens’ teeth. 

Keep watching the main documents page.  And, if time permits we will write a wrap up article, summarising the decisions, after those have been published.  

Huge applause to the THR community – to everyone who tweeted, commented, cared about the potential impact of COP9 on human beings – despite us having the door slammed shut in our faces.

A special thanks must go to sCOPe, for streaming brilliant content and ensuring the consumer voice is heard.  

We’ll leave you with some of our favourite tweets.  COPWATCH is now off to the pub.

DAY 5 UPDATE #1

Good morning COP WATCHERS.  We are now into what we hope is the last day of COP9. 

FCTC has recently tweeted to announce it’s the last day and to promise some live streaming

According to the 5th Journal, the 7th plenary this morning will see the adoption of the revised “Declaration on WHO FCTC and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic” (the Iran declaration – see our update from yesterday for more on that).  This is followed by item 7, date and place of COP10 (we are guessing it won’t be the Philippines), then item 8 sees the election of the of the President and the Vice-Presidents of COP,  item 9 is the adoption of the provisional report of COP9, item 10 is the closure of the session.  

The usual regional and committee meetings are also taking place today. 

New documents:  the 3rd report from Committee B has been published (LINK);  it seems that Adriana Blanco Marquizo will get re-elected as head of the convention secretariat.

The FCA’s bulletin propaganda sheet has excelled itself this morning by giving its Orchid award to Iran, a country roundly condemned for human rights abuses.  This is reminiscent of the time the WHO made Robert Mugabe a goodwill ambassador.  A reminder, should we need it,  that this tobacco control bubble is far removed from the real world, despite being set up to tackle real world problems.  

The Philippines has been awarded it’s THIRD ashtray award by the FCA.  Yesterday we reported that the Philippines delegation is being lauded at home for its work at COP9, yet the FCA continues to brief against it. We are reminded that there is currently an investigation in the Philippines into foreign interference (from Bloomberg funded groups) into domestic policy. 

Yesterday we reported that the FCTC official Twitter account had deleted a tweet declaring that Parties are sovereign.  We were pleased to see that tweet has now been sent out again. 

We wondered why this basic information was deleted considering it was not at all controversial. We are glad that the FCTC has now confirmed it is still the case that parties are sovereign at FCTC COP.

#COP9FCTC LIVE 11 November 2021 #COP9news #THRworks

DAY 4 UPDATE #2

It has been a quiet afternoon for watching COP, with little news emanating from the black hole. We can only hope that they got through the main items on the agenda and are on track to tie everything up tomorrow. 

There has, however, been a backlash from the Philippines about the two “dirty ashtray” awards the Framework Convention Alliance handed the country in its bulletins this week. The Philippines Department of Health objected to the video statement made by the lead of its delegation, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, but Locsin has had forthright backing from his government in two articles published today.

The Inquirer reported that “Deputy House Speaker Deogracias Victor Savellano and Surigao del Norte, 2nd District Rep. Ace Barbers … lashed out at “extremist critics” of Locsin and his team for their disrespect of our country’s sovereignty.”, the high-ranking officials went on to say “We support the Philippine delegation to the WHO FCTC ninth Conference of the Parties headed by Sec. Locsin for pushing for an inclusive and participative decision making in crafting global policy recommendations. Tobacco control approach cannot be one-dimensional.”

The Manila Bulletin covered the story too, quoting Savellano further, “We support and commend Sec. Locsin for safeguarding the rights and welfare of all stakeholders and carrying the Philippines’ position to adopt a balanced and evidence-based regulations in tobacco control”.

Peter Dator of consumer association, Vapers Philippines, sent a supportive message to the Philippine delegation, which was first shown on sCOPe

It was curious to discover that the FCTC had deleted a tweet posted on November 8th stating that it is the Parties to the Conference which are the governing body of the FCTC. As the tweet states, this is basic information on the treaty, so it is puzzling why it was removed. Is there any reason why this is no longer the case? 

The tweet can also be seen on WayBackMachine, here:
https://web.archive.org/web/20211108142545/https://twitter.com/FCTCofficial/status/1457715451597893641

On a matter of housekeeping, links for the FCA daily bulletins have moved, so we have changed them in our COPWATCH live articles. Each bulletin is provided in PDF format which can be saved locally should you wish to ensure they do not get lost again. We do.

Before we show you our favourite tweets of the day, it has been encouraging to see the conference hashtags dominated by an eclectic mix of pro THR tweets. #COP9 and #COP9FCTC are overwhelmingly supportive of the consumer position, and it is interesting to note that even FCTC does not use the official #COP9FCTC tag which they have been urging on delegates throughout the conference via the daily journals. Lately, the FCTC account seems to have abandoned the hashtags it previously promoted.  

Our favourite tweets:

Now you’ve read this, do go and catch some more of the fantastic sCOPe streaming, on YouTube here

See you tomorrow for what we hope is the final day of COP9.

DAY 4 UPDATE #1

Good morning.  Day 4 of COP has begun.  From Journal 4 and the FCA bulletin we learn that the morning’s business is regional meetings, followed by the Committee B’s Fifth Committee meeting and then the Fifth plenary. There are new additions to the main documents page, the First report of Committee A (decision on NGO’s maintaining their observer status) and the Second report of Committee B (deals with the investment fund, do see our update from last night for discussion of their first report).  Today should see a decision on who is to host COP10 (it will not held in Geneva).  Of course, there is no publicly available information on which parties have applied for the task (as if taxpayers would have any interest in that!). 

As seems to be customary, the FCA bulletin is giving more information than is in the official documents (the FCA is just a NGO, with no formal powers).  

Yesterday the Iranian president of COP invited the Iranian delegation to consider the draft declaration on WHO FCTC and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Following an invitation from the President, the delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran introduced the draft declaration and comments were invited from the floor.  Iran’s state media outlet has reported on that here – giving much more of a focus to Iran’s ownership of the declaration than the FCA – which doesn’t mention Iran at all.
https://en.irna.ir/news/84535684/Iran-reminds-nations-of-shared-responsibility-towards-outcomes 

While we are on the FCA bulletin, the NGO has used its privileged position this morning to again slap down the Philippines delegation.  (As we reported on 9 November: A robust statement came out in a video from the Philippines last night, with a call for active participation from all Parties and inclusive consultation with all stakeholders. It stated that the Philippines will not be banning e-cigarettes and recognises the fundamental differences between various tobacco and nicotine products”) . The FCA is also passing judgement this morning on the Brazilian government’s choice of delegation.  Parties nominally hold all the power at FCTC COP – in light of that, how can this level of interference from FCA be tolerated? 

Committee B endorsed the Secretariat’s proposal to establish an Investment Fund. It states that it “may also receive financial inputs from other public and private sources that meet the requirements of Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC”. This means that the FCTC is seeking funding from outside its usual channels and the only criteria is that those funds cannot come from what the FCTC defines as the tobacco industry. That does not include pharmaceutical interests or, indeed, Bloomberg Philanthropies. It also opens up the possibility of private businesses with no connection to the tobacco and nicotine debate becoming financial stakeholders in the FCTC, while relevant businesses and consumers are totally locked out. 

Interesting to see that SEATCA is this morning celebrating increased transparency at COP, with the inclusion of accredited media.  We can’t see that those journalists are doing any reporting.  Last night we reported that there is a target to invite just one new NGO application for Observer status, by 2023.  We see no evidence that FCTC COP is working towards increased transparency.

#COP9 LIVE 10 November 2021 #COPnews #COP9FCTC #THRworks

DAY 3 UPDATE #3 19:10 CET

A quiet afternoon for us.  Our highlight has been to read through the draft First report of Committee B, which was published this afternoon, and which mysteriously grew some extra pages, after it was first posted.  

In the report we learn:

  • That they wish to establish the “total amount of Assessed Contributions of Parties for the financial period 2022–2023 at
    US$ 8 801 093” (page 2)

Good luck with getting that out of cash strapped governments!

  • That they have a target for 2023 of getting just one new application for Observer status (page 8):

They could have doubled their target today, if they had accepted NNA UK and INNCO’s applications.

  • How much they are budgeting for staffing costs – this is the biennial cost of the most highly paid person (page 15):
  • That team building retreats are on the agenda for the Secretariat (page 14)

Do read the full document. There is a lot more in it than we have shown here and, for a COP9 document,  it’s quite entertaining. 

In terms of the agenda, as far as we know they have not yet reached item 7, which is where the location for COP10 will be decided.  But, we’ll need to wait for the publication of the ever delightful FCA bulletin and Journal 4 tomorrow for confirmation of where they are up to.  
Keep an eye on this page for those, and other documents.

The African Harm Reduction Alliance has posted this compelling plea from Dr Kgosi Letlape to COP9 delegates to resist WHO “groupthink”.  It is really worth the one minute of your time it will take to watch it:  

Three of our favourite tweets from today:


sCOPe is still livestreaming some really interesting content – click here to see that and join the chat if you wish to.  The Day 4 content has just started. 

Good Night, COPWATCHERS, we’ll be back tomorrow morning.

DAY 3 UPDATE #2 11.55 CET

Unusually for COP meetings, some journalists have survived into at least the second day according to the FCTC. Sadly, when searching for news on COP9 we are unable to find any articles except those written by THR advocates who are, of course, not admitted. If you see anything written by one of these “accredited journalists”, do let us know on our contact form


The FCA bulletin gave the first mention of the “Omnibus decision”, despite that not yet being available to the public (it is, now – see here).  If you can overlook some of the nauseating language, the bulletin has a (we assume accurate) summary of #COP9 day two.  The FCA is, again, trying to influence COP9 through its tasteless awards.

Our award goes to the FCA, for shamelessly trying to influence COP

Journal 3 of COP FCTC is here: https://untobaccocontrol.org/downloads//cop9/journals/FCTC_COP9_Journal_3_EN.pdf

This confirms that “substantive discussions of and decisions” on some of the agenda (including the items which concern “novel” products) will be deferred to COP10, in 2023:

“The Committee was reminded that for the reasons discussed in the opening Plenary under Agenda item 1, the five reports under agenda items 4.1 and 4.2 would be provided for the information of the Parties, with substantive discussions of and decisions on these items deferred to COP10. This approach had been agreed by the COP, as reflected in decision FCTC/COP9(2).”

This decision to postpone those substantive discussions and decisions means that there is a lot less for Parties to get through.  Will COP finish early?

Has someone has been up to dirty tricks to silence the consumer voice? 

SCOPe report that they are back on air, having been temporarily taken down.

sCOPE is streaming some fantastic content – head over to their YouTube channel to watch it.

DAY 3 UPDATE #1 10.00 CET

Good morning and welcome to Day 3 of our COPWATCH updates.  

OBSERVER STATUS DECISION

Overnight, the Observer decision has been published.  It comes as no surprise that COP has accepted the Bureau’s recommendations.  Applications from THR consumer groups have been rejected while several Bloomberg grantees implacably opposed to safer nicotine alternatives are welcomed with open arms (as well as their being spectacularly over-represented in the Participants list

No explanation has been given for the rejections – there are 5 possible reasons (see 3, here).   Adding insult to injury, the rejected applicants have not been notified. They are presumably expected to find out by sitting around and refreshing the official documents page.  Especially wrong when – as Louise Ross points out below – these groups are largely run by volunteers.

‘At the New Nicotine Alliance, we were disappointed and surprised not to receive any notification that our application for an observer place at COP9 had been rejected. We are a small educational charity, managed by volunteers, dedicated to informing and educating the general public, healthcare professionals and policy-makers about safer alternatives to smoked tobacco, and we have no ties with any industry. Decisions made at COP affect ordinary people, and we believe we had a legitimate reason for applying. But we were not permitted to observe, and only found out by default.’

Louise Ross, Interim Chair, New Nicotine Alliance

And, here is the reaction from INNCO: 

“INNCO has applied, and been rejected Observer Status at COP9.  Again.  We were rejected at COP8.  As usual, no explanation was given.  We assume that they assume that anyone who advocates for safer nicotine must be in league with the devil (Big Tobacco).  Or maybe this hints that they’re aware that their dogma is flawed, and simply need to make sure everyone with lived-experience who might contradict that dogma is excluded from the conversation.  Whatever… Our rejection is a violation of our human rights:  Our right to have a seat at the table on policy decisions that affect us and 98 million adults worldwide who use safer nicotine to avoid toxic forms of tobacco.”

Charles Gardner, Executive Director, International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations