Wednesday, 7 February 2024

In this issue:

Committee member asking or answering questions
Female committee member applauding

Contrasting Progress in Committee Dynamics

Oh the irony…. (again)

We saw two different versions of progress today. Parties in Committee A spoke at length about progress but unfortunately made little progress on discussing agenda items. Committee B however moved through the agenda at a steady pace and agreed to establish one single oversight committee serving both the WHO FCTC and the Protocol Investment Funds. The Convention Secretariat requires sustainable resources to fulfill its important role as well as to implement both the COP and MOP workplans. This Investment Fund will complement existing resources from Assessed Contributions and Extrabudgetary Funds. We need to see countries stepping up and investing in the funds to generate sustainable funding for the FCTC.

Starting to sound like a broken record here, but we are heading into the third day with a packed agenda, and with time slipping away quickly due to numerous process interventions it will be great to see Committee A progress efficiently through substantive agenda items.

Global Youth Voices made an intervention asking delegates to consider their children, nieces, and nephews when making decisions at COP10, and to choose to be remembered as the ones that protected them from the harms of tobacco.

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

New report on pack warnings, plain packaging

The 8th edition of the Canadian Cancer Society report, Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report, launched Tuesday at COP10. The report is available here in English, French and Spanish, with printed copies available at the conference centre.

There is continuing global progress for plain packaging, and for larger picture health warnings. A total of 42 countries / territories are moving forward with plain packaging, with 25 having finalized requirements. Further, 138 countries /territories have required picture warnings. Canada has required pack inserts, and warnings directly on individual cigarettes. Overall, the report outlines package warning practices for 211 countries/territories.


Rob Cunningham, Courtney Campbell

Canadian Cancer Society, Ottawa, Canada

How Article 2.1 and Endgame Policies Align with FCTC Best Practices

For the first time in FCTC COP history, Article 2.1 is on the agenda this week, and a draft decision has been circulated by the government of Canada. Article 2.1 is brief enough that it bears quoting entirely:

Article 2.1

In order to better protect human health, Parties are encouraged to implement measures beyond those required by this Convention and its protocols, and nothing in these instruments shall prevent a Party from imposing stricter requirements that are consistent with their provisions and are in accordance with international law.” [emphasis added]

The framers of the FCTC wanted to explicitly state that the specific policy obligations in the FCTC set a floor, rather than a ceiling, for national tobacco policies. Without it, there was concern that the tobacco industry would use the FCTC as a weapon in litigation, arguing that policies that went beyond the treaty were somehow illegal. That was prescient: the tobacco industry has used this argument, albeit unsuccessfully.

Article 2.1 also recognizes that tobacco policies would evolve over time. The FCTC represents a 20th century set of policies that constituted best practices at the time of negotiations. This does not mean that the FCTC is outdated; as a framework convention it was always meant to be a catalyst for evidence-based change in policies and tactics. Adopted Guidelines are a good example of this.

The draft decision (FCTC/COP10/P/CONF./1) calls for the establishment of an expert group “to identify and describe forward-looking tobacco control measures” and report back to COP11. It also recognizes that some Parties have already passed and are implementing “forward looking” tobacco policies. While not mentioning specific examples, it seems clear the decision is referring, at least to some degree, to what are often called “tobacco endgame” policies, or policies meant to end the tobacco epidemic rather than mitigate it.

Since the last full COP in 2018, attitudes toward ending rather than mitigating the tobacco epidemic have changed dramatically. Once seen as too radical and espoused by a very few, it has become normalized and is a regular feature where tobacco policy is discussed, including, now, the FCTC COP. Two cities in the United States have banned commercial tobacco sales, three others are phasing out tobacco retail licenses, and one has permanently banned the sale of tobacco to anyone born this century (often called a Tobacco-Free Generation (TFG) law).

In December, New Zealand passed a new law aimed at ending the tobacco epidemic, including a ban on sales to anyone born after 2008, a 90-95% reduction in the number of retailers, and reducing nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels. Malaysia is entertaining a parliamentary TFG bill, and the UK Government has announced its intention to make it an offense for anyone born on, or after, 1st of January 2009 to be sold tobacco products. The new legislation would apply to all products that contain tobacco – including combustible, smokeless and heated – as well as herbal cigarettes and cigarette papers. At least a dozen countries, as well as several U.S. states, have set ambitious tobacco endgame goals.

On Wednesday, Canada and the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control will co-host a lunch side event on Forward-Looking Tobacco Control Measures.


Chris Bostic, Policy Director, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), Washington, D.C. USA

Menthol Cigarette and Mint on Black Background

Bans on Menthol and Other Flavours: Evidence of Measurable Impact from Canada and The Netherlands

Bans on Menthol and Other Flavours: Evidence of Measurable Impact from Canada and The Netherlands

The addition of flavours, especially menthol, to tobacco products has contributed uniquely to the enormous health, economic, social, and environmental costs of tobacco. For decades, tobacco companies have used flavour additives to reduce the harshness of smoke and facilitate inhalation, making it easier for young people to try smoking and progress to regular use, and to influence those who smoke that these less-harsh cigarettes are less harmful when they are not.

Partial guidelines for WHO FCTC Articles 9/10 include a clear statement about the need for flavour bans: “From the perspective of public health, there is no justification for permitting the use of ingredients, such as flavouring agents, which help make tobacco products attractive.” In addition, the 2016 WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg) advisory note on menthol in tobacco products “unequivocally recommends banning the use of menthol and its analogues, precursors or derivatives in cigarettes and possibly all tobacco products.”

Canada’s draft decision regarding Article 2.1 proposes bans on menthol and other flavours as an important strategy to reduce the appeal of tobacco products.

The evidence from multiple evaluation studies of menthol bans strongly supports these recommendations. The International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project) found that menthol cigarette bans produced significant benefits in both Canada and the Netherlands, increasing cessation [1,2], without increasing illicit purchasing [3,4]. A followup study highlighted the additional environmental benefit by computing the tremendous reduction in littered cigarette butts that would occur from the proposed menthol ban in the United States (3.78 billion fewer cigarette butts would be littered per year after a US menthol ban) [5].

The research evidence and experiences of countries that have banned menthol align with WHO recommendations and the partial guidelines for Articles 9/10, supporting the conclusion that Parties should implement the following comprehensive measures to reduce the appeal and palatability of tobacco products:

  1. Complete ban on additives that have flavour and/or sensory properties at any level rather than only as characterising flavours (typically defined in relation to perceivable taste and smell), since menthol and other analogues can reduce harshness at subliminal levels.
  2. Complete ban on flavour accessories, including components or parts of the product (i.e., the tobacco, filter, wrapper, paper), and separate flavour add-ons (e.g., capsule balls and flavour cards).
  3. Include other tobacco products in the flavour ban (e.g., cigars, heated tobacco products) since regulations that are not specific about which products are subject to a flavour ban will invite industry exploitation of this loophole.
  4. Increase cessation support through strengthening implementation of Article 14 to assist those who use flavoured products to quit rather than to transition to other non-banned tobacco products.


Geoffrey T. Fong, Janet Chung-Hall, and Lorraine V. Craig,

ITC Project, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

New Index of Tobacco Control Sustainability

Tobacco use kills more than 8 million people each year. Addressing the wide-ranging health and economic harms of tobacco requires sustained long-term commitments from governments, especially in countries where tobacco use is growing.

That’s why Vital Strategies launched the Index of Tobacco Control Sustainability (ITCS) to help assess and guide national tobacco-control programs. The Index first launched in 2016 under The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), focused on 24 countries with the largest population of smokers. The second round, published in 2024, included 11 countries subject to reassessments and 20 new countries. These assessments are conducted by local tobacco-control experts, and the data are aggregated and analyzed by Vital Strategies for feedback, followed by a final review with all parties. It is, by design, a collaborative and transparent process that can be conducted in under-resourced and wealthier nations alike.

The index, updated with 2022-2023 data in this latest edition, measures 31 structural, policy and resource indicators. Among them are a minimum tobacco tax of 75% of retail price; establishment of a national tobacco-control unit; government funding for staff development; and a tobacco-related mortality and morbidity surveillance system. ITCS is conceptualized to identify how and if a country’s tobacco control program is sustainable—and that it includes long-term planning, resource commitments and enduring policies.

According to the Index, Thailand is the only country so far whose tobacco-control efforts were deemed sustainable—though they are lacking a few of the key recommended indicators, underscoring the long-term nature of this process. In addition, 15 of the 31 countries have shown demonstrable progress, although the top four of those 15 countries have yet to create a tobacco-related mortality and morbidity surveillance system. While there’s still work to do, patterns have emerged that will help experts direct programmatic priorities to build a more sustainable tobacco control plan.

Already, the Index has helped distill its foundation indicators into 13 key issues that—if attended to—could have positive effects across all 31 indicators. They include: incorporating at least four of WHO’s MPOWER recommendations for tobacco control; budgets; national legislation; tax; health-implementation funds; preventing tobacco-industry interference; and “corporate social responsibility” bans, among others. Perhaps the strongest measure of ITCS’ global and continuing potential is how it has enhanced countries’ understanding of tobacco control in their own context and provided new perspectives on familiar issues. The Index aims to encourage all stakeholders to take a holistic approach to this work, and that governments, civil society, and researchers come together to address the policy gaps identified and move the world closer to a healthy, sustainable, tobacco-free future.


Gan Quan, Senior Vice President, Tobacco Control, Vital Strategies

Cigarette butts on the ground  Garbage  Pollution

Addressing the Environmental Toll of Tobacco: Urgent Action Needed at COP10

The tobacco industry has a significant negative environmental impact. The WHO's report Tobacco: Poisoning our planet” pointed to the environmental harms caused by tobacco including the chopping of 600,000,000 trees every year, the annual release of more than 84,000,000 tons of CO2 emission, the yearly use of more than 22,000,000,000 liters of water to make cigarettes and the discarding of more 4.5 trillion cigarette butts in the environment. But despite this increased recognition of the negative environmental impact of the tobacco industry, the Global progress in implementation of the WHO FCTC submitted to COP10 suggests that Article 18 of the FCTC (Protection of the environment and the health of persons) continues to be weakly implemented at national level.

Fortunately, COP10 has the opportunity to reverse this trend and help the world address what should be a low hanging fruit when it comes to environmental challenges.

Brazil, has proposed a supplementary agenda item to address “the environmental concerns associated with tobacco, in line with Article 18 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” along with Draft Decision for the consideration by COP10 with Panama and Ecuador as co-sponsors. This draft Decision reminds us of the significant environmental impact of tobacco production, consumption and post consumption and it urges increased work towards the implementation of Article 18, including the use of litigation to hold the industry accountable for environmental harms aligning with Article 19 of the FCTC. It also encourages whole of government and whole of society cooperation and collaboration to address the environmental impact of tobacco production and consumption and it promotes policy coherence between the FCTC and national and international treaties like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution with the aim of tackling hazardous plastic waste from tobacco products including cigarette butts.

We encourage all FCTC Parties to support the adoption of the Art 18 Draft Decision by COP10. This will help increase synergy and cooperation between the FCTC and UN environmental mechanisms, while respecting their respective mandates, to achieve globally agreed UN Human Rights and Development goals and objectives, including progress towards the 2030 UN Development Agenda.


Laurent Huber, Executive Director, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), Washington, D.C. USA

Laura Salgado, Head of Campaign and Partnership, Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control




Turkey Delicate Geometric Orchid

To AFRO for urging immediate activation of the investment fund given the urgent need for adequate sustainable resources for FCTC implementation


Pub And Bar - Ashtray

To Guatemala for setting a bad example by systematically timewasting and trying to reopen closed agenda items. Other parties take note.

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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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