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Thursday, 8 February 2024

In this issue:



Turkey Delicate Geometric Orchid

Orchid Award

To Singapore- For constructively, and in line with FCTC rules, helping Parties move forward on Art. 9 & 10.

Pub And Bar - Ashtray


To the Dominican Republic, a non-party, for misusing the Plenary session to promote the tobacco industry.

Frustrated Businessman Throwing Papers in the Air

Urgent Calls for Action Amidst Rules Ignored and Challenges Faced

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?

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 draft decision reflects the latest available scientific evidence and proposes a path for moving forward with the critical work of these articles. After a day and a half on this topic, we cannot afford to waste any more time.

Committee B however, continued to advance at a steady pace to get through the numerous agenda items, even with the added workload of agenda items transferred from Committee A. Discussions on the draft proposal for the Implementation Review and Support Mechanism were relevant and productive, but we need to ensure that we adopt a review process that will contribute to the effective implementation of the FCTC.

A big shout out to AMRO, AFRO and SEARO regions who delivered regional interventions in plenary this morning around maximizing transparency. We must protect FCTC negotiations from tobacco industry interference which continues to be the major obstacle for the WHO FCTC to fully accomplish its provisions.

As the end of the week is quickly approaching, faster than we think, we’d like to urge delegates to remain focused in these next few days, and to prioritise discussions on adopting decisions that are going to support effective implementation of the treaty for the years to come. The clock is ticking. For day 4, we implore Parties to work together to adopt the draft decision on Articles 9 and 10 and move on to addressing all the remaining agenda items that require substantive discussions such as Human Rights, The Environment, and the Specific Guidelines on Article 13.

Documentary details big tobacco’s colonial roots, current exploitation in Africa

“They just torment us. It is cruel because once you sell enough bales to pay back the loan, they won’t allow you to sell them more.”

The testimony from Malawian tobacco farmer Prince Makamu is one of several powerful interviews in a new documentary, Tobacco Slave.

Exploring the industry’s business practices in Africa and featuring expert input from academics, advocates and industry insiders as well as tobacco farmers, the film reveals economic exploitation and inequity, safety issues, child labour concerns and health fears.

From award-winning director Prof Roy Maconachie, the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath and industry watchdog STOP, Tobacco Slave is a powerful indictment of the tobacco industry’s historic and current practices in Africa.

See the film here.


Phil Chamberlain, Deputy Director, Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG), Department for Health, University of Bath

Why we still need a proper Implementation Review Mechanism

Implementation Review Mechanisms (IRMs) act as a peer review process to assist member states in effectively implementing international conventions. Such mechanisms are commonly used in areas of international cooperation, including multilateral human rights and environmental treaties, to support effective and transparent treaty implementation.

The establishment of a proper IRM for the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) has been a long-standing priority for civil society. While the WHO FCTC is legally binding, the reality is that mechanisms to ensure governments are complying with their treaty obligations are limited. Effective monitoring mechanisms remain vital to successful implementation of the WHO FCTC. Although there are several tools in place with the aim to provide an overview of how Parties are collectively progressing in implementing the treaty, including the FCTC reporting instrument, along with the global progress and biannual implementation reports, the ability of these instruments to help address issues related to ‘non-compliance’ at a national level is limited.

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There remains a pressing need for an IRM that meets the aims and guiding principles of the FCTC. The transparent nature of an IRM is designed to be facilitative, not punitive. It fosters mutual assistance between Parties, civil society engagement and support, and identification of the biggest collective needs to improve treaty implementation

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The guiding principles of an IRM are to:

  • engage in transparent, non-punitive, and ongoing monitoring of the implementation of the treaty;
  • facilitate implementation by working with Parties, the treaty Secretariat and relevant stakeholders to provide advice and assistance to Parties;
  • address cases of possible non-compliance with treaty obligations, usually in consultation with the COP; and
  • report periodically to the COP to enable the COP to perform its ongoing implementation review role.

While the work undertaken on the pilot projects and to develop the proposed IRSM might be useful, the IRSM as outlined does not meet the guiding principles of an IRM and is therefore not a proper IRM/IRSM, such as exists in other treaties. For this reason, we cannot support the decision as it is currently drafted.

In its current form, the proposed voluntary IRSM is a virtual desktop review and duplicates many of the functions of the existing Needs Assessment project. It does not fulfill the transparent, systematic, peer review function that can assist Parties to effectively implement the FCTC. Therefore, it should be called a Voluntary Peer Review Mechanism if the decision is adopted without change.

There remains a pressing need for an IRM that meets the aims and guiding principles of the FCTC. The transparent nature of an IRM is designed to be facilitative, not punitive. It fosters mutual assistance between Parties, civil society engagement and support, and identification of the biggest collective needs to improve treaty implementation, which in turn provides valuable information to improve resource allocation by the COP to advance treaty implementation – all of which can assist Parties that may be struggling to comply with their obligations.

It is imperative that the establishment of a proper IRM remains on the COP agenda to ensure effective and comprehensive implementation of the treaty.


Nicole Nguenha, Leslie Rae-Ferat, Global Alliance for Tobacco Control (GATC), Ottawa, ON Canada

Kylie Lindorff, Cancer Council New South Wales, Australia


(Haz click aquí para la versión en Español)

Tobacco is a lethal product that kills more than eight million people worldwide. Public health advocates devote their efforts to the prevention and reduction of its consumption. In response, the tobacco industry (TI) reinforces its interference strategies, creating an irreconcilable conflict between its interests and public health progress.

The Third Regional Interference Index in Latin America and the Caribbean countries, developed by Corporate Accountability in collaboration with the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) utilizes civil society reports to document TI interference events during the period from 2021 to 2023.

During this period, TI interfered in the public policies of all 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries that participated in this Index– 17 countries from Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) and two from the Caribbean (Dominican Republic and Jamaica).

Six countries have improved their actions to address and counter TI interference: Panama, Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina and Nicaragua. Increased TI interference was documented for Costa Rica, Honduras, and Uruguay. The country with the least interference is Panama, while the most TI interference was documented for the Dominican Republic.

In Latin America, TI interference in public health policy takes many forms including direct lobbying, financing of scientific studies that support TI claims, contributions to political campaigns, and recruitment of high-ranking government officials, among others. The Index also notes that the tobacco industry is masking its interference through corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. These CSR activities are mostly concentrated on campaigns for environmental protection, such as cigarette butt clean-ups.

TI has been using its tried and tested tactics for a long time, especially during vulnerable periods such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic. In the previous Index (2021), the tobacco industry ramped up its CSR activities including providing donations, positioning itself in the fight against illicit trade, and overplaying its significance towards economic reactivation.

Governments must use all the tools that are derived especially from Art. 5.3 of the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), to arrest TI interference. The tobacco industry is in a deadly business, and it continues to make profits while governments are saddled with the economic and social burden of tobacco use.

Governments must perform their mandate to protect tobacco control policies from commercial interests. All sectors of the government need to work more effectively to protect tobacco control policies, develop more stringent regulations, eliminate incentives for TI, monitor TI activities, promote national and international cooperation, and implement modalities to ensure compliance with the guidelines of Article 5. 3 of the FCTC. Parties should require accountability from the tobacco industry and hold it liable for the harm it has caused. Parties are also encouraged to promote the participation of civil society, establish national coordination mechanisms. And most importantly, countries that have not ratified the FCTC must do so.


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

Daniel Dorado, Tobacco Control Campaign Director, Corporate Accountability

Daniela Valdivieso, Tobacco Control Campaign Consultant, Corporate Accountability

Jaime Arcila, Senior Researcher, Tobacco Control Campaign, Corporate Accountability

Implementing Article 17: Reducing Tobacco Supply through Tobacco-Free Farms: The Case of Kenya

We left Nairobi one day before World No Tobacco Day this year and drove about 400 kilometres west of the city. It took us about eight hours to reach Migori County, a lush expanse of fertile lands watered year-round by conventional rains.

About 15,000 acres of Migori County are devoted to farming tobacco. Despite being home to 15,000 of Kenya’s 36,000 tobacco farmers, the biggest tobacco growing hub in the country, Migori County is one of the poorest regions. These tobacco farmers are contracted by British American Tobacco-Kenya to grow and cure leaves for the company’s export market.

A 2016 study by the International Institute for Legislative Affairs (IILA), titled Economics of Tobacco Farming in Kenya, showed tobacco farming is largely unprofitable for farmers and nearly half of them (49.23 percent) were ready to switch from tobacco to another crop.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, about 20 percent of residents here, who are mostly tobacco farmers, are poor. Many are also suffering from illnesses caused by exposure to chemicals used on tobacco farms.

Once in Migori Country, we spoke with former tobacco farmer Robi Chacha about her experience.

She said: "Tobacco farming is tough and tiring. You don't have time to rest, because you need a lot of time to work in the field. We need to inspect the field and spray chemicals, since tobacco is not resistant to diseases and pests. We use a lot of chemicals to control the pests in the field.”

“Food production was very little, because one needs a large area to grow tobacco in order to make a profit. Therefore, other food crops are cultivated in smaller areas, and the yields are not enough to produce sufficinet food for the family,” she added.

It is clear that tobacco farming is taking a toll on Robi. Fortunately, she is one of more than 2000 former tobacco farmers who switched to growing high-iron Migori beans.

They were helped to transition through a programme known as the Tobacco Free Farms, a joint initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Kenyan government. After making the switch to farming Migori beans, Robi sought to make a change. She trained hundreds of farmers on making the switch from growing tobacco to high-protein beans, which they call Nyota (Star) in Swahili. For her work, Robi was recognized on World No Tobacco Day 2023.

world health organization

Now, Robi makes six times more money from beans and is regaining her health.

The tobacco-free project is currently being expanded to include three new tobacco-growing counties in Kenya – Meru, Busia, and Bungoma.

Article 17 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control calls upon Parties to provide economically viable alternatives for tobacco workers and growers. This is a key supply reduction strategy outlined in the Convention, yet many countries have yet to establish and implement effective policy measures to enforce the provision. The Tobacco-Free-Farm project in Kenya therefore provides a benchmarking and learning opportunity for Parties.


Celine Awuor - CEO, International Institute for Legislative Affairs, Kenya

John Muchangi - Science Editor, The Star Newspaper, Kenya

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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

Email: info@gatc-int.org

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