Tuesday, 6 February 2024

In this issue:

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.

We have an incredibly busy week ahead of us with a packed agenda, including the Article 18 discussions added to the agenda today, that require Parties’ attention and considered decision-making. Every hour of every day we are here will be needed for constructive and productive discussion, not lengthy discussions on procedural issues “to save time”.

Parties Should Adopt COP Bureau Proposal on Articles 9 & 10

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 (on regulation of contents and disclosure of tobacco products). This Expert Group - elaborated in a draft proposal from the COP Bureau - would consider and make recommendations to Parties regarding pertinent issues and evidence concerning Articles 9 and 10, and would continue the suspension of the Article 9 and 10 Working Group. This proposed decision should be adopted, as outlined in the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control (GATC) brief.

A note: Articles 9 and 10 deal with tobacco products, not e-cigarettes or other nicotine products, which will be considered under a different agenda item.


The Article 9 and 10 Working Group, made up of Parties, was established at COP1 in 2006 and has been by far the longest-running Working Group. Over time, through various COPs, guidelines for Articles 9 and 10 have been developed and adopted regarding regulation of tobacco products and tobacco product disclosures. Article 9 and 10 issues are often among the most technical areas under the FCTC.

At COP8 in 2018, Parties decided to suspend the agenda of the Working Group and create an Expert Group tasked with examining the reasons for low implementation of Articles 9 and 10 and their guidelines. The Expert Group - composed of individual experts instead of Parties - met and prepared a report submitted to COP9.

“To date there has been a low level of adoption related to Articles 9 and 10 and their guidelines. Not only are the issues often difficult, but the tobacco industry has worked to undermine adopted measures.”

COP8 also directed the Bureau to consult with Parties regarding the future mandate for the Article 9 and 10 Working Group, and to report to COP9. The Bureau’s consultation with Parties found a lack of consensus for a possible reactivation of the mandate of the Working Group in the short term, but a positive view for the medium and long term (FCTC/COP/10/5).

As COP9 would end up being held virtually in 2021 due to the pandemic, action on Articles 9 and 10 was deferred to COP10, as was the case for many other issues.

As a result of the consultation, the Bureau recommended that the mandate of the Working Group continue to be suspended but an Expert Group be created to make recommendations regarding pertinent issues and evidence concerning Articles 9 and 10. These recommendations are reflected in the draft decision of the Bureau for COP10.

To date there has been a low level of adoption related to Articles 9 and 10 and their guidelines. Not only are the issues often difficult, but the tobacco industry has worked to undermine adopted measures. Having an Expert Group of knowledgeable, individual experts will allow for detailed examination of current issues regarding regulation of tobacco products and tobacco product disclosures, including in technical areas, and result in helpful reports to Parties. We urge Parties to approve the COP Bureau proposal for the Expert Group.


Rob Cunningham, Canadian Cancer Society, Toronto, Canada

Deborah Arnott, Action on Smoking and Health (UK), London, United Kingdom

Evaluation of Article 6 – tobacco taxation – performance

Though Article 6 – focused largely on increasing excise taxes on tobacco products— is not formally on the agenda for this Conference of Parties, it is important to consider how our global community is performing on this critical tobacco control intervention. We report here on the results from the forthcoming third edition of the Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard. The Scorecard evaluates governments’ performance on four components of successful tobacco taxation as a fiscal and public health intervention.

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To begin, the overall average score has dropped from 2.28 to two out of a possible five points. Notably, it fell in all World Health Organization (WHO) regions. Scores improved in 30 countries (compared to 81 in the second edition in 2021), worsened in 76 countries (48 in 2021) and stayed the same in 49 countries (24 in 2021). Let us explore the main reason(s) for this change.

First, how governments structure their tobacco excise taxes matters. Research shows consistently that countries with systems that rely mostly or entirely on specific excise taxes (those applied per unit, such as a stick) perform the best. The average global score for the structure score was unchanged from the last edition, suggesting that the countries with poor structures are not making the necessary changes. For example, many countries—particularly in Asia—continue to use tiered structures that permit very cheap cigarettes by taxing some brands much less.

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Second, the absolute price typically matters: if consumers must pay more, they will consume less. The Scorecard finds that overall average price increased slightly across the world from the last edition, but it was uneven across countries. The absolute price of cigarettes remains low in dozens of countries (<4 international 2018 PPP-adjusted dollars).

Third, the evidence shows that the greater the tax share of price, the greater the positive effect of these taxes. The WHO uses it widely to evaluate tobacco tax performance. The average tax share of price declined slightly.

Last, and arguably most importantly, making tobacco products less affordable is paramount to the public health success of tax. It’s not just price that matters but also changes in people’s income. As people earn more, their consumption often increases. Unfortunately, there was an enormous drop in the overall change in affordability score. In dozens of countries, tobacco products are not becoming less affordable.

In sum, the progress that we observed from 2019 to 2021 has stalled or reversed in some countries. It’s possible, even likely, that the pandemic played a role in some cases. But more probable, it is more about governments failing to raise tobacco excise taxes on a regular and consistent (e.g., at least annually) basis, particularly to outpace both inflation and income growth. There is evidence that this is partly due to redoubled efforts by tobacco companies to fight back– because higher taxes are their worst nightmare—but is also due considerably to government inaction.

The Scorecard will be released soon-- sign up for notification at or follow us on Twitter @tobacconomics.


Jeffrey Drope (Research Professor) and Carlos Guerrero-López (Senior Economist)

Tobacconomics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA

Diplomats promote the industry’s interests

Despite WHO FCTC articles and national policies, diplomats from high income countries continue to engage with – and promote the interests of – the tobacco industry in low- and middle-income countries. Research from the University of Bath, detailing a case study from the UK, points to a broader industry strategy to undermine public health, further commercial objectives, enhance reputations and help the industry to normalise.

Another recent publication, the 2023 Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index, further details how diplomatic missions from five countries - China, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K. - endorsed or promoted the tobacco industry in other countries, and how lack of transparency remains an issue.

Parties to the WHO FCTC should affirm and convey that Article 5.3 applies across the whole of government, to ensure that government representatives abroad abide by its provisions as closely as they would at home.


Dr. Raouf Alebshehy, Managing Editor of

Karin Silver, Deputy Editor of,

Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG), Department for Health, University of Bath

tobacco: A Human Rights Issue

Few legal measures are as effective in safeguarding and advancing the right to health as the landmark international treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The WHO FCTC is a powerful tool that Parties to the treaty can use to uphold human rights, particularly the right to health. The Preamble of the FCTC clearly illustrates the connection between tobacco and human rights; it references the right to health in three separate human rights treaties, as well as the World Health Organization’s Constitution.

The Conference of the Parties plays a pivotal role in shaping and implementing policies that can have a profound impact on public health worldwide, and has a history of a human rights-based approach to tobacco control. At COP7, a decision reiterated the human rights principles enshrined in the WHO FCTC. The decision FCTC/COP7(26) urged parties to link the human rights and development frameworks in tackling the global tobacco epidemic and invited the Convention Secretariat to collaborate with other UN bodies to protect public health interests from the commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. In a related decision, COP7 adopted FCTC/COP7(19) : Relationship of the Convention Secretariat with other international entities: observer. These documents demonstrate ongoing attempts to strengthen the link between human rights and tobacco control and the FCTC.

“A COP10 decision would illustrate to the human rights community and the world that the FCTC is mutually reinforcing with the Human Rights Treaties and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable developmenT”

A COP10 decision would illustrate to the human rights community and the world that the FCTC is mutually reinforcing with the Human Rights Treaties and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. By making progress on implementing the FCTC, countries are also advancing towards human rights responsibilities and the sustainable development goals. As such, a human rights-based approach to tobacco control will also help break down silos and encourage cross-issue cooperation within and between governments.

Human rights provide a framework to address and promote tobacco control measures, and the UN system and treaty bodies are important tools in the arsenal in the fight against the tobacco epidemic. Governments and civil society can utilize human rights mechanisms to address the challenges of tobacco control. For example, if county A is having challenges implementing an advertising ban due to tobacco industry interference, civil society could report that to a human rights treaty body, for example, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committee on the Rights of the Child could then include in its conclusion, a call to action for Country A to implement that advertising ban, in order to meet its human rights objectives. These observations provide authoritative interpretations of individual human rights and the legal obligations enshrined in the Conventions, thus influencing State behavior and advocacy efforts.

It falls upon the tobacco control community to establish this connection. A study found that human rights committees are four times more likely to address tobacco in their conclusions if a report on tobacco was submitted. An FCTC decision would have a similar exponential impact.

If we want the human rights community to recognize tobacco as a human rights issue, then we, the tobacco control community, must as well. The COP 10 Decision on Human Rights marks a significant stride in the right direction.


Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Managing Attorney, Action on Smoking and Health, Washington, D.C., USA

Gianella Severini, legal coordinator, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Washington, D.C., USA.

Photo Credit:Geoff T. Fong, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Photo Credit:Geoff T. Fong, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Global Youth Voices: What brought us to COP10

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the GATC.

As global youth advocates and representatives of the Global Youth Voices (GYV), a movement of over 30 global, regional, and local youth organizations covering more than 130 countries, we find it humbling to see our calls recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and to learn that our statement will be brought to the Tenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Panama. This conference marks a crucial moment where our concerns can be heard and acted upon by global leaders.

For a long time, our collective voice echoed shared concerns regarding the pervasive tactics employed by the tobacco industry. The industry has been enticing our generation with so-called “innovations” like biodegradable filters as well as flavored vaping and tobacco products. These strategies have been widely and maliciously propagated through digital and entertainment media, including sports advertising. More so, the tobacco industry downplays the harms of these emerging tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, mislabeling them as "harm reduction" strategies. This deceptive tactic has lured a whole new generation into a lifelong addiction, exposing us to irreversible harm.

Our organizations have been building their capacity with the help of Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control resources and support since 2020, which proved instrumental in navigating towards a future that is free from tobacco industry interference. We have gone beyond merely demanding regulations and embarked on a path to secure justice for ourselves and for the next generation.

Are you attending the WHO FCTC COP10? Do you wonder what young people have to say and what advocacy role they play in tobacco control? Envision the next 20 years of FCTC with the International Pharmaceutical Students' Federation (IPSF) and the International Youth Health Organization (YHO) on Thursday, February 8th at 13:30-14:45 at the side event "Guardians of Tomorrow: Rise Against Tobacco for a Healthier Future" aimed at igniting a call to action for youth inclusion in the Tobacco Control processes and emphasising the significance of national and global strategies in regulating tobacco use among youth, and with youth.

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The power to demand impactful solutions to curb industry manipulation is the wind beneath our wings throughout this impactful movement.

We are calling on the industry to stop its deception and manipulation, and to disassociate from misleading terms like "harm reduction," "wellness," "sustainability," and “producer responsibility.” We demand the industry to bear full financial responsibility for the myriad of harms it inflicts, including the environmental damage caused by cigarette butts. We demand specific solutions to hold the tobacco industry accountable, including compensation mechanisms, financial guarantees, and various penalties, fees, or taxes.

As the COP10 progresses in Panama, we reiterate our key calls to the Parties and delegates:

Being the target of the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing tactics, we fervently advocate for comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) across all media, including digital platforms.

Emerging tobacco products should be viewed as threats to our generation. We advocate for a ban on all recreational addictive products, or where bans are proven ineffective, we support robust regulatory measures.

Forward-looking tobacco control measures should be protected against industry interference and deception, including an immediate ban on cigarette filters and disposable vapes.

Implementation of liability measures should be strengthened; the present and future generations should be able to hold the tobacco industry accountable for past, present, and future harms, including financial consequences through levies, compensation mechanisms, and effective sanctions.

Parties to the COP10 must act decisively, prioritize our future, and stand firm against the tobacco industry's deceptive maneuvers. Together, let us shape a future where the -being of our global youth takes precedence over the tobacco industry’s commercial and vested interests.


Lesego Mateme, Projects Coordinator for the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum, Centurion, South Africa

Helen Stjerna, Secretary General, A Non Smoking Generation, Stockholm, Sweden

Vivian Sandi, Alianza Juvenil, La Romana, Dominican Republic

Sarah Neggazi, Chairperson of Public Health, International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation

Katja Čič, Manager on Youth Health Issues at the International Youth Health Organization, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Salman Khan, Liaison Officer for Public Health Issues, International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, København, N.,Denmark

On behalf of the Global Youth Voices (GYV)




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To Oman - For pointing out that Parties should not waste time with repeated interventions that are not related to productive outcomes.


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To Parties that opposed Brazil’s excellent proposal to include Article 18 on the agenda, which addresses the significant environmental concerns associated with tobacco.

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Contact US

Global Alliance for Tobacco Control

c/o HealthBridge

1 Nicholas St, Suite 1004

Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 7B7

Phone: 1 613 241 3927


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