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.

Despite the huge amounts of public funds deployed for FCTC, there is no transparency

  • From COP4 onwards, the public gallery has been closed in the opening session, excluding the media and the public.
  • COP is a closed shop between the FCTC Secretariat, Party delegates and tobacco control activists.
  • FCTC’s COP operates with excessive secrecy, to the extent where it is even difficult to find out who attends.

Quick comparison between FCTC and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Sources for table above: LINK ONE, LINK TWO, LINK THREE, LINK FOUR

 Also see here for Clive Bates’ table comparing the transparency of  the two global treaties.

Affected populations, such as consumers and tobacco farmers, are excluded

  • No consumer group representing smokers or ex-smokers has ever been granted observer status for FCTC COP.
  • 500 tobacco farmers were actually detained by police in New Delhi, when protesting at their exclusion outside COP7 in 2016 (link)
  • Article 5.3 of the FCTC is misrepresented in order to exclude the public from COP sessions
  • Good regulation is the result of a fair consultative process, but there is no consultation at FCTC’s COP.

FCTC Secretariat and NGOs have too much control

  • Decision making powers rest with the Parties. However, most Parties do not have sufficient resources for tobacco control, so the Secretariat and Bloomberg funded NGOs fill the void.
  • In practice, the FCTC Secretariat controls the agenda and the papers presented for COP.

Malign influence of philanthrocapitalism, in particular from Michael Bloomberg

  • Bloomberg favours outright prohibition of vaping and many Bloomberg Philanthropies grantees are pursuing that agenda
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies funds many NGO’s associated with FCTC COP
  • Grantees include websites and media groups which pursue an anti THR agenda, often by seeking to discredit THR advocates, including academics and consumers
Image source: Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction https://gsthr.org/static/htmlbook/bi/images/pg105-1.png

Harm reduction is one of the three pillars of policy strategies agreed when the FCTC was formed, BUT it is ignored

  • In papers for the COP, WHO routinely recommends banning smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes, or taxation and regulation of smoke-free products equivalent to cigarettes.
  • The science presented by WHO is becoming less and less trustworthy.  A recent report from the Convention Secretariat even attempts to redefine vapour as tobacco smoke.
  • WHO and fellow advocates of the prohibitionist approach increasingly refer to tobacco harm reduction as an “industry invention”. This denies the lived experiences of millions of us, and airbrushes out support from many reputable institutions and academics towards THR.

The Treaty is being misused

  • The FCTC is not being used to capture the opportunities from modern non combustible products such as vapes, which are far less harmful to health than smoking.
  • WHO is instead manipulating the treaty to push for over regulation and bans.
  • WHO is pursuing its new goal of a nicotine free world, a goal which is unrealistic and unfair and has no scientific justification.

Suggestions for further reading

1. This article explains how the treaty came about and how it was negotiated in a non-inclusive manner:
Greg Jacobs: Without Reservation

2. All Party Parliamentary Group on Vaping – Inquiry into the WHO Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Conference of the Parties (COP) Memorandum by Clive Bates

3. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Conference of the Parties (COP): an explainer, Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction

4. What is FCTC COP?  (from this website)

5. Administering the Mark of Cain: Secrecy and Exclusion in the FCTC Implementation Process, 2018

6. The Fourth Pillar of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: Harm Reduction and the International Human Right to Health