#COP10 documents guide: FCTC/COP/10/7

The one where the WHO denies quitting smoking is quitting smoking, and other daydreaming

In the first Copwatch guide to documents being provided to ‘educate’ national delegations at the COP10 conference in November, let us look at FCTC/COP/10/7, published on 1st August.

This is the third report on articles 9 and 10 ((Regulation of contents and disclosure of tobacco products, including waterpipe, smokeless tobacco and heated tobacco products). You can read the document on the FCTC website to confirm our quotations below.

The first thing Copwatch noticed was how many (or, more accurately, how few) mentions there were of adults within the text of its 25 pages. For the good of our readers, we painstakingly counted them so you don’t have to. Fortunately, it did not take long as there were only two. Yes, two.

Once in terms of a target to reduce “adult smoking” by 2025 (page 2), which you would expect in a report preamble of this nature. The second was in a derogatory way by describing heated tobacco being used by “young adults” (page 10). By contrast, word searching “children” returns 23 results, “adolescents” 24, and “youth” 15.

There must be around 10 times as many adults on the planet as minors, but the WHO either does not notice them or considers them irrelevant. This could explain why the document is devoid of any references which suggest lower risk nicotine products are helping the 100 million+ adults who use them to quit smoking, which they undoubtedly are.

The WHO denies this, of course, because the authors of FCTC/COP/10/7 appear intent on redefining what quitting smoking is, as stated on page 8.

“Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, there is a critical need across the studies to uniformly define ‘cessation’, and whether a person who has switched from conventional cigarettes to ongoing use of ENDS [vapes] can be considered to have successfully “quit “.”

The document also denies that people who smoke are switching to vaping products at all, also on page 8.

“Overall, the certainty of the evidence across the studies and reviews is often rated as ”low” or “insufficient”.

It will not surprise you that this bang up-to-date WHO report does not cite the latest evidence from Cochrane, the global gold standard of evidence reviews, from November, which found high certainty evidence that nicotine e-cigarettes are more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) in helping people quit smoking.”

FCTC/COP/10/7 also contains a section on nicotine pouches (page 16), which do not produce smoke and are not made from tobacco. The FCTC objective states clearly in Article 3 that its purpose is to reduce consequences and prevalence of “tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke” so this focus on pouches is mission creep unwarranted by the terms of the WHO’s own treaty.

The WHO worries that pouches “have attractive properties, such as appealing flavours, and can be used discretely (sic) without the stigma of smoking”. It reports that its TobReg study group has “made a number of recommendations to policy makers and all other interested parties” which can be found “in Chapter 4 and Chapter 7 (Overall Recommendations) of TobReg’s Ninth report.”

Do not Google for that, though, as it has been published for all “interested parties” except the public who pay for the WHO through our taxes. A secret document, about a product which is not covered by the FCTC treaty, being shared with people who, if they were doing their job correctly, should be telling the WHO that nicotine pouches are none of their business at COP10. (UPDATE: Since publishing our article the TobReg Ninth report was published, on 23.08.23, download from here.)

This is not the only secret report referenced in FCTC/COP/10/7. There is another described as “supplementary information to this report” which discusses flavours in nicotine pouches and how they are advertised. It is available on the WHO FCTC website. By available, they mean available to them, not the likes of us.

It apparently notes that pouches come in “a wide variety of sweet and fruity flavours”, “amplify the visibility of pouch promotion”, “sponsor a wide variety of events” and offer “free or heavily discounted samples.” Otherwise known as companies producing safer nicotine products consumers might like and making them aware they exist.

The WHO is also not happy about pouch manufacturers claiming that their products offer “freedom to use anywhere”, are “innovative/modern/high tech, stealthy/discrete (sic) to use”, and benefit users for “no smell/teeth stains, and as a means of smoking cessation.” All of which is true, but perhaps the WHO has forgotten the meaning of truth at the same time as it forgot the definition of smoke and quitting smoking.

The report next turns its guns on single use vapes (page 17), for which it has engineered a new acronym, D-ENDS. It says that they “were introduced around 2018–2019 and began circulating on global markets” which will come as a revelation for those who were using disposable products from 2007 before refillable tanks were invented up to 2013 when the first heavily commercial disposable was marketed while open systems made by independent producers were still in their infancy

Still, FCTC/COP/10/7 helpfully reports that “a background paper on the characteristics, marketing, challenges of D-ENDS, as well as the regulatory considerations” has been produced “to provide authoritative guidance to its Member States.” That has not been published either.

Lastly, the document takes aim at flavours (page 18). “Flavours are often cited as the primary reason for youth to try a tobacco or nicotine product”, it boldly claims. Sadly, this is not true, either. Action on Smoking and Health in the UK released a report on August 3rd to correct myths about vaping. It was unequivocal that the evidence does not support flavours as a “primary reason” for children to take up vaping.

            The main reason children vape is because they like the flavours: NO

The main reason children give for vaping is ‘to give it a try’, cited by a quarter (26%) of those who have smoked tobacco and more than a half (54%) of those who have never smoked. The next most common reason is because ‘other people use them, so I join in’, in other words peer pressure, cited by 21% of ever smokers and 18% of never smokers. Liking the flavours comes third on the list, cited by 16%of ever smokers and 12% of never smokers as their reason for trying vaping.

It is not true in the USA either. The latest national survey data shows flavours are way down the list, just below the ability to do tricks.

Copwatch has failed to find any evidence that flavours are “the primary reason” for youth to try a nicotine product anywhere in the world.

The organization the WHO cites for its wildly inaccurate claim is STOP, a heavily Bloomberg-funded production. The three articles it refers to are all about flavours in combustible tobacco and present no evidence whatsoever that flavours are a “primary reason” for youth to try non-combustible nicotine products.

The FCTC/COP/10/7 report concludes by asking delegates to “note this report and to provide further guidance.” May we suggest that Parties to the treaty note the report and invite the WHO to come back with something which could be categorised in libraries as non-fiction?

Key milestones for COP10

The Tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) will be held in Panama from 20 – 25 November.

Below we provide a graphic of the key milestones leading up to COP10, and opportunities for engagement.

A note on the deferred agenda items: Due to COP9 being held virtually, it was decided that substantive discussions of and decisions on several items on the agenda would be deferred until COP10. Two of the items which were deferred were item 4.1; “Implementation of Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO FCTC (Regulation of contents and disclosure of tobacco products: reports by the expert group, and by WHO and the Convention Secretariat),and item 4.2; “Novel and emerging tobacco products”.

Access the pdf version here.

What do we know about #COP9?

#COP9  #COP9FCTC  #COP9news #THRworks

Where and when?
FCTC’s Ninth Conference of Parties (COP 9) will be held from 8-13 November 2021, following a postponement from 2020 due to COVID-19.  

This COP will be virtual, with the FCTC website noting that Special Procedures need to be adopted so that the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the WHO FCTC can pursue its work in a virtual format”.  COP involves a lot of participants from all over the world, so this is likely to be difficult to manage.  

Where can we watch it? 
We can’t. In stark contrast to the United Nations COP on climate change, held in the UK this week, FCTC’s COP is shrouded in secrecy. Most of the public will be unaware that COP9 will be taking place or even what it is, COP9 discussions will not be broadcast online and the public are barred from even observing. It will be interesting to see if this secrecy can be maintained this time, given the virtual format.  See our
https://copwatch.info/whats-wrong-with-fctc-cop/ article for a transparency comparison between the United Nations COP on climate change and FCTC’s COP.

Exclusion of key stakeholders
In the last decade no consumer group representing smokers or users of safer nicotine products has been admitted as an observer to FCTC’s COP.   Regrettably, it looks as though consumers will stay unrepresented at COP9 too, as the Bureau has recommended that THR consumer groups INNCO and NNA UK applications for observer status are rejected.  The recently published preliminary journal suggests that these recommendations will be voted on by the Parties at item 2 in the first plenary meeting on 8 November, so there is still hope that the Parties will do the right thing. 

From COP4 onwards, the public gallery has been closed in the opening session, excluding the media and the public.  For COP9, there has been no option for the public to register for the event but there is a registration form for accredited media, see: https://fctc.who.int/who-fctc/governance/conference-of-the-parties/ninth-session-of-the-conference-of-the-parties

What will be discussed? 
Due to the virtual nature of the meetings” the Secretariat has recommended that several issues are deferred for discussion until COP10, in two years time.  However, this is only a recommendation and only one party would need to ask for discussion at COP9, for that discussion to take place.   

All the published COP9 papers, including the provisional agenda, can be found on this page:

Some of the reports relating to tobacco harm reduction betray a heavy bias against safer alternatives to smoking.  When we find comprehensive critiques of those we will share them on this site.   
UPDATE 7.11.21 Clive Bates’ excellent Prohibitionists at work: how the WHO damages public health through hostility to tobacco harm reduction includes some discussion about papers for COP9, under: 4.2 Papers to support COP meetings.

How can we follow COP9?
COPWATCH will be issuing COPLIVE articles while COP is on, so please read and share those. Remember to use the official hashtags:  #COP9 and #COP9FCTC when sharing.

sCOPe is another COP9 related consumer initiative, they will be streaming while COP is on so please watch and share their activities too.  Subscribe here to watch the sCOPe live stream

The Preliminary Journal – 27 October 2021 includes the information that “The programme and timetable of meetings will appear in the Journal of the Conference, which will be issued on a daily basis”. The Journal also includes a “tentatively envisaged” working schedule for day one – which will be “subject to the decision of the Conference”.

The Framework Convention Alliance will be distributing a daily bulletin, more on those here.

Engaging with @FCTCofficial and #COP9 on social media
Use official FCTC hashtags – such as #COP9 and #COP9FCTC –  when discussing COP on social media, find those in the COP9 MOP2 communications toolkit and the Preliminary journal.

Consumers are also likely to be using #THRworks, #sCOPe21, #Voice4Choice, #Commit2Switch

Further reading on this site: 


What is FCTC COP? 

What’s wrong with FCTC COP?

Other links:

FCTC’s COP9 page

Guide for Participants COP9 & MOP2

COP Preliminary Journal – 27 October 2021

FCA COP/MOP Bulletin

THR consumer groups who applied for Observer status at COP9
International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO)

New Nicotine Alliance UK 

Consumer live streaming event during COP9:
sCOPe YouTube 

Some of the recent articles on COP9: 
WHO busted for manipulating key tobacco conference

Good COP Distracts From Bad COP – Concerns Grow

To the World Health Organization (WHO) and delegates of the Ninth Conference of Parties (COP9) regarding the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

100 experts speak up in favour of harm reduction

COP 9 Tabac : l’OMS interdit tout débat sur ses positions anti-vape

A Tale of Two COPs

Three possible reasons for WHO decision to keep alternatives out of tobacco talks

What’s wrong with FCTC COP?

COP9 #THRworks

Here is a brief list of what we think needs to change. What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Visit the links at the end to explore these issues in more detail. See our Glossary for short explanations of the acronyms.

The WHO approach to tobacco control is not working

  • There are still 1.1 billion smokers worldwide, the same number as in 2000.
  • FCTC methods are failing and, so long as harm reduction is denied to smokers, FCTC’s methods will continue to fail.
Read More »

What is FCTC COP?

#COP9 #THRworks

For an explanation of acronyms and terms please see our glossary here.

The Treaty

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005. It has since become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history.

The objective of the FCTC is “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke”.

The treaty describes “tobacco control” as “a range of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating or reducing their consumption of tobacco products and exposure to tobacco smoke”.

The FCTC framework includes a range of tobacco control measures to reduce tobacco demand (Articles 6-14) and tobacco supply (Articles 15-17), concerning the production, sale, distribution, advertisement and taxation of tobacco products. Although harm reduction is recognised in the treaty as a tobacco control approach, thus far the COP has not provided any clarity or guidance on specific harm reduction strategies.

Link to download the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty: https://fctc.who.int/who-fctc/overview

Full list of signatories and date of ratification or accession to the FCTC: https://www.who.int/fctc/cop/en/

Out of the 193 Member States of the WHO that participated in the FCTC negotiation, 182 countries have either ratified or acceded to the convention, becoming “parties” to the WHO FCTC. The parties make up the Conference of the Parties (COP), which is the governing body of the WHO FCTC.

Note that some countries have signed the convention but not ratified (e.g. USA and Switzerland). This indicates that they participated in the negotiation of the FCTC and agree to its contents but have not taken the national legal step of constitutional ratification that is unique to every country. 

Currently, there are 15 “non-party” states (countries that are Members of the UN and may have participated in its negotiation but did not sign the FCTC during its year-long open period, or who have only signed but not ratified the FCTC).

  • Six have signed but not ratified (Argentina, Cuba, Haiti, Morocco, Switzerland, the United States). These countries have the option to ratify the FCTC.
  • Nine have not signed (Andorra, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Monaco, Somalia). These countries cannot ratify the FCTC, but instead only have the option to accede to the FCTC.

Both signing and ratifying, or acceding, have the same legal effect and both routes result in the country becoming a Party.

Read More »