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.

A vaper’s call to the delegations to #COP10

“I call on the Philippine delegation, and all delegations, to the next FCTC COP, to consider our plight”

Here we publish a powerful plea from a vaper in the Philippines to the delegates who will be meeting at COP10 in Panama next month. 

“In one month, the parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will meet in Panama to discuss and set rules on how cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products or VNPs (this is how we refer to e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products here in the Philippines) should be regulated. The debate is as political and as emotional as ever. Netflix has this feature documentary on the biggest vape product in the world, the UK is in the news with their new approach to tobacco control, and the anti-smoking (now also anti-vaping) NGOs are front and center in calling for bans or equalizing the regulations for cigarettes and VNPs. The anti-VNP campaign employs alarmist propaganda, fake news, half-truths,and disinformation. Panama will set the tone for the next chapter of the VNP story. 

What is drowned in all this noise are the voices of the people who will be most impacted, smokers and vapers. Smokers because VNPs have proven to be a useful tool for quitting, and vapers who benefit from their availability at present. I am a former smoker. I was able to quit with the help of a VNP. I am still a vaper today, and if the essential qualities that make VNPs work for smokers are taken away (like flavors and nicotine restrictions), I’m not sure if I can keep vaping, or if I’ll find myself going back to cigarettes. This may very well be the case for the millions of vapers globally who will be impacted by the decisions of a handful of bureaucrats in Panama who are not even brave enough to open their discussions to the public eye. 

The problem with this debate is that the antis are pushing the narrative that keeping minors away from VNPs and helping adult smokers quit using VNPs are mutually exclusive approaches. They are not. It is possible to protect minors from getting hooked on nicotine products AND give adult smokers the chance to try these, and for adult vapers, to continue making this their nicotine product of choice. It’s all about the regulation. Banning, or equalizing the regulations, will only favor cigarettes and the black market. It still amazes me how the WHO and the NGOs turn a blind eye on these realities, and how they always argue like things happen in a vacuum. “Vapor products are dangerous; they have this chemical or that chemical” they say. That’s true, but if you compare these with cigarettes, they are much less harmful. This comparative exercise should be the test, and not something buried in the sensationalist headlines that banner the worst possible things you can imagine from this product category (think popcorn lung, EVALI, and other kinds of misinformation) which will not even happen if proper regulations are in place. 

The old traditional tobacco control measures should be supplemented by these new products. What is worth noting is that the countries with the best VNP regulations are all developed ones. We are yet to see these products take-off in a low- or middle-income country. This is where the COP comes in. Instead of asking how we can keep these products from the poorest of the poor smokers, we should find ways to bring these products to them, as the impact of smoking is felt the hardest in the global south. We have a golden opportunity to study the available evidence, look at the regulations that work (and which are killing cigarettes in the countries where they are given the chance to do so) and share this globally as a best practice. 

Stopping smoking CAN include VNPs. I call on the Philippine delegation, and all delegations, to the next FCTC COP, to consider our plight. We are your constituents too, and our welfare, our lives, are more important than the egos, the personalities, and the ideologies that drive the antis in this debate.” 

COP10 documents guide: FCTC/COP/10/4

The one where everyone marks their own homework

Here we continue the Copwatch guide to the documents provided to ‘educate’ national delegations at the COP10 conference in November, with a look at FCTC/COP/10/4

Produced by the Convention Secretariat, the subject for the report is ‘Global progress in implementation of the WHO FCTC’. The report is based on data submitted by the Parties (countries) and measures their progress in implementing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty into their national policy and regulatory frameworks.  

The Secretariat defines progress according to how far countries have implemented the FCTC  MPOWER measures, i.e. Monitoring tobacco use, Protecting people from tobacco smoke, Offering help to quit, Warning about dangers of tobacco use, Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, and Raising taxes on tobacco.

The report notes that implementation of the FCTC has been generally slow.  However, four countries are singled out for praise for adopting the FCTC MPOWER measures to the highest degree —Brazil, Mauritius, the Netherlands and Turkey .  

But, here’s the thing – the adoption of the MPOWER measures is not helping these countries to meet the crucial objective, i.e to reduce smoking.    

In Turkey, the prevalence of smoking is very high and has actually been increasing in recent years.  In  Brazil smoking is declining very slowly, from 10.8% in 2014 to 9.1% in 2021,  Mauritius also shows a tiny decrease from 19.3% in 2015 to 18.1% in 2021The Netherlands, home to a powerful tobacco control lobby, also performs poorly on smoking prevalence rates.   

All four countries, championed by WHO as best practice, perform well on MPOWER measures but perform badly on reducing smoking rates. Is it a coincidence that all four countries have also banned or severely restricted the availability of safer nicotine products?   

In comparison, countries where consumers have been switching to safer nicotine products in large numbers – Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the UK – have seen dramatic drops in smoking prevalence.  These successes are not celebrated by WHO. 

Lars M. Ramström, the eminent tobacco control researcher, politely points these uncomfortable truths out in his recent Commentary:

“The measures for Demand Reduction and Supply Reduction recommended by the WHO are certainly valuable tools. But the fight is not maximally effective without the third pillar stated in Article 1d of the FCTC – Harm Reduction.”
[Commentary] The WHO strategies to reduce tobacco-related deaths are insufficient, Lars M. Ramström 

Do read Professor Ramström’s short commentary in full. And, revisit our article from last year, where we reported that Robert Beaglehole and Ruth Bonita, both independent experts with formerly senior roles in WHO, had said much the same thing:
https://copwatch.info/the-fctc-is-no-longer-fit-for-purpose-say-independent-experts/

Back to the COP10 official documents – these only confirm that the WHO and FCTC have forgotten about the 1 billion people who smoke, a number unchanged over three decades. WHO and the FCTC secretariat will not be part of the solution while they stubbornly continue with their ineffective MPOWER measures and obstruct tobacco harm reduction.

Panamanian party poopers?

Past COP events have occasionally been somewhat embarrassing for the WHO. Could COP10 follow this trend? 

Who can forget when an outbreak of Ebola in Africa in the run-up to COP6 in 2014 presented then WHO Director General, Margaret Chan, with a dilemma? Should she travel to Africa, where a lethal disease was brutally killing citizens, or to the COP6 Moscow venue to chat about tobacco over tea with Vladimir Putin? She chose the latter, naturally. 

Or COP7 in New Delhi where delegates from all over the world convened to discuss exaggerated health threats from vaping just as one of the worst smogs in living memory descended on the city. The New York Times reported that over 1,800 schools were closed and the public exposed to pollution equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day, as if to remind the WHO what a real public health crisis looks like on the eve of their flagship tobacco control event.  

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

Dr. Roa would appear to be an odd choice for an independent adviser considering she has been a Ministry of Health employee since 1986, with latest filings showing she is paid $4,294 per month, roughly five times the average Panamanian salary.  

As well as being feted by Bloomberg acolytes, Dr. Roa is extremely close to the WHO, having led ratification of the FCTC treaty and having served as Representative at the FCTC Bureau Conference of the Parties for the Americas Region (AMRO). She is also so embedded in the Panamanian establishment that her former husband was one of the closest advisers to notorious Panama dictator, Manuel Noriega (see below). 

Surprising as it is that she was appointed to the role, the perceived bias that acceptance of a Bloomberg award would suggest may not have worked out very well for the enemies of harm reduction. The investigation of Dr. Roa seems to have opened up a wider debate. 

All alternative nicotine products are currently prohibited in Panama but this is now being revisited. According to the gloriously-named Mr Cigarruista, of the Association for the Reduction of Harm from Smoking in Panama, a bill has been presented to the National Assembly that proposes regulating vaping products to replace the current ban. 

The November jamboree is fast approaching and delegates are starting to book their accommodation for a COP10 meeting which carries many threats for vaping and other harm reduction products. The WHO’s FCTC Secretariat has been working hard to guide delegations into agreeing decisions at COP10 to ban or heavily restrict reduced risk nicotine products all over the world. It will be somewhat embarrassing for the WHO if, at the same time, their host country is discussing proposals to implement common sense over vaping products and reverse prohibition.

How unfortunate that would be for the WHO. Our hearts bleed for them.