Update on WHO FCTC and MPOWER

This one-day session organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners will give all participants an opportunity to learn about progress, successes and barriers to the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and MPOWER.

Morning Plenaries

High-Level Ministerial Session - Tobacco Control and NCDs

The 2011 political declaration on the prevention and control of Noncommunicable diseases was a turning point event in the fight against Noncommunicable diseases. Heads of states and governments formally recognized these diseases as a major threat to health, economies, and societies and placed them high on the development agenda.

The political declaration followed by the adoption of the Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020 and the voluntary global targets, including that of a 30% reduction in tobacco control use globally gave WHO a leadership role, together with a great responsibility to work with its Members States and empower them to be able to achieve the set targets.

New data from WHO estimate that in 2011 the vast majority of the premature deaths of individuals from non-communicable diseases (85% or 11.8 million) between the ages from 30 to 70 occurred in developing countries. The probability of dying from any of the major non-communicable diseases between the ages of 30 and 70 ranges from 10% in developed countries to 60% in developing countries.

It is estimated that up to two thirds of premature deaths are linked to exposure to risk factors including tobacco use and up to half of all such deaths are linked to weak health systems that do not respond effectively and equitably to the health-care needs of people with non-communicable diseases

With its focus on the relation between NCDs and tobacco control the WCTOH presents a great opportunity for WHO to reinforce its support to action at country level aims at controlling and preventing NCDs and in presenting best practices around the world; a chance for exchange of knowledge and information.

The WCTOH will start with the WHO Day, which will be divided into several events most importantly the High-Level Ministerial Plenary on tobacco control and NCD.

Objectives of the plenary:

Objective 1: Reinforce WHO technical message in the area of NCD and tobacco control.
Objective 2: Highlight best practices in controlling tobacco and achieving the NCD targets.
Objective 3: Present a joint WHO-Countries vision on way forward.
Objective 4: Address the challenges including the role of the tobacco industry regionally and globally.

The plenary will provide speakers with the opportunity to present best practices; discuss challenges and debate on way forward.

The plenary will provide the audience with opportunity to understand better the situation and challenges at country level; recognize different roles and responsibilities and to create a discussion on future actions and possible targets achievement.

10 years of the FCTC

On 27 February 2015 the Parties celebrated 10 years since entry into force of the first global public health treaty. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) marked a milestone in public health and provided new legal dimensions for international health cooperation.

So far, 180 Parties around the world have ratified the Convention and committed themselves towards its full implementation. Achievements of the Parties to the Convention help protecting the health of their citizens, and are an inspiration to everyone involved in tobacco control. They are assisted in their efforts by partners such as WHO and its regional and country offices, the observers to the Conference of the Parties, including civil society organizations, as well as donors and all other stakeholders and international partners, including the United Nations system organizations, that have not spared the technical and financial means required to assist countries in need.

The WHO FCTC, through exemplifying how an international legal regime could become an appropriate response to the effect of globalization on health, opened a new phase in global health policy as well as in global health governance. Recent years have seen growing political recognition of the role of the WHO FCTC as a catalyst in the global health and development agendas, including through its promotion of multi-sectoral and international cooperation, with regard to a range of health challenges in the 21th century, such as the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases and their controllable risk factors. The instruments developed under the guidance of and adopted by the COP, such as the new Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and the seven guidelines for implementation of specific requirements of the Convention could give further impetus and strengthen, when implemented fully and comprehensively, the impact of the Convention on the health of nations.

Objectives of the plenary:

Objective 1: To briefly summarize the history of development and adoption of the first ever public health treaty.
Objective 2: To provide examples of strong achievements in implementation of the WHO FCTC.
Objective 3: To highlight contributions by key actors towards assisting Parties to the Convention in their implementation efforts.
Objective 4: To share the vision of the future development of the Convention, in the light of the decisions of the 6th session of the Conference of the Parties.

The history of WHO FCTC

Presentation 1: Strong achievements in the implementation of the treaty
Presentation 2: Strengthening implementation of demand reduction of WHO FCTC
Presentation 3: Mobilization of the UN system towards the implementation of the WHO FCTC and the integration of the WHO FCTC with the UNDAFs at country level (United Nations Development Programme)
Presentation 4: The civil society’s contribution to the implementation of the WHO FCTC


Tobacco Atlas, Fifth Edition Launch

12:45-13:45  ICC

The Tobacco Atlas plenary presentation introduces the completely revised and updated fifth edition, which – together with its companion website, tobaccoatlas.org – aims to be the most comprehensive, informative and accessible resource on the most important and current issues in the evolving tobacco epidemic. It has been specially developed to be used by students, teachers, researchers, journalists, advocates and policy-makers. Moreover, it is an invitation to partners from related communities – including non-communicable disease, environment, equality and development - to join together in this crucial public health fight, because all of our interests are dramatically affected by the
tobacco epidemic and its human tolls.

A box lunch will be provided for those attending this session.

Afternoon Tri-Plenaries

Tobacco taxation: overview, current challenges and country best practices

The World Health Organization (WHO) has so far engaged with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) officials from 73 countries around the world to provide technical assistance to Member States on tobacco taxation. The objectives of these engagements are to:

  • Raise taxes to increase the price of tobacco products, as it is proven to reduce tobacco consumption and help the governments achieve their public health objectives;
  • Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of tax systems to improve the sustainability of tax revenue, and ensure that the governments collect expected tax revenues without any tax leakages; and
  • Increase the technical and administrative capacity of MoF officials to monitor the tobacco market and improve tax compliance, so that the risks of tax evasion and avoidance are reduced.

This plenary session will focus on country specific experience of tobacco taxation presented by the representatives from the MoF of the participating countries (Bangladesh, Jordan and the Philippines). This session will highlight the political difficulties and how the governments overcome such hurdles to implement better tax policies.

Objectives of the tri-plenary:

Objective 1: To raise awareness regarding the cooperation between WHO and Member States on tobacco taxation and on the guidelines for implementation of Article 6 of the WHO FCTC adopted in 2014;
Objective 2: To examine the impact of policy changes in tobacco taxation on tobacco consumption and government revenue;
Objective 3: To explore the challenges in implementing the desirable tax policy changes;
Objective 4: To share the experiences of best practices; and
Objective 5: To promote a multi-sectoral approach in addressing tobacco control.


Presentation 1: Global tobacco taxes: What have we learned?
Presentation 2: Guidelines for implementation of Article 6 of the WHO FCTC
Presentation 3: Experience of tobacco taxation in Bangladesh
Presentation 4: Experience of tobacco taxation in Jordan
Presentation 5: Experience of tobacco taxation in Philippines
Presentation 6: Experience of tobacco taxation in Gambia


The potential of mobile phones to provide cessation services at scale

A 90-minute session discussing lessons learnt from mCessation techniques, how to scale these up in national programs, and opportunities and challenges in mass scale adoption of mCessation in all countries for reducing global tobacco prevalence.

Objectives of the tri-plenary:

Objective 1: To discuss the potential of mobile phones to provide cessation services population wide level;
Objective 2: To share recent experience of implementing mobile health interventions for tobacco cessation at national scale;
Objective 3: To showcase the multi-sectoral approach for prevention, treatment and control of Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in mobilizing resource for capacity building and for sharing of innovations and best practices; and
Objective 4: To share information about the WHO/ITU mHealth initiative "Be He@lthy Be Mobile".


Presentation 1: mCessation: evidence for action
Presentation 2: Country perspective: Using Apps and sms for cessation: examples from the UK
Presentation 3: How to setup a national level mCessation program and policy implications
Presentation 4: Country perspective: Lessons learnt in setting up a national NCD program (Weqaya)

Moderated discussion panel

Discussant 1: Tools, technology and social media for Cessation
Discussant 2: Country perspective: mCessation results and lessons learnt
Discussant 3: Country perspective: mCessation results and lessons learnt


Toxicity and health effects of waterpipe tobacco smoking: current state-of-the-science and funding opportunities

Since the release of the WHO Advisory Note on Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking in 2005, waterpipe research has received important attention, and resulted in new evidence and facts and in the bridging of many research gaps. Meanwhile, new fashions on waterpipe use have been developed, such as adding various flavours and additives to the tobacco used in waterpipes. Even the tobacco industry now gives some attention to the use of waterpipes and started investing in its production.

Waterpipe use accounts for a significant and growing share of tobacco use globally. Its use is most prevalent in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, but it is a rapidly emerging problem in other continents such as Europe, North America and South America. Specifically, in the US, the decreasing prevalence of cigarette smoking as a result of decades of tobacco control efforts has coincided with the emergence of relatively unregulated cigarette alternatives such as smoking flavoured tobacco via waterpipe (hookah). Similar experiences have been observed in several countries where waterpipe use has not been traditionally common.

A typical waterpipe tobacco smoking session may deliver over 20 times the smoke volume of a single cigarette. A strong science base is needed, especially in the areas of tobacco product surveys, standardization of methods for testing product toxicity in laboratory and natural environments, and discovery of new intermediate markers of biological effects. Building a science base is paramount in order to help countries in drawing appropriate and suitable science-based regulations where use of waterpipe is prevalent.

Objectives of the tri-plenary:

Objective 1: This plenary is designed to summarize the state of the science on waterpipe tobacco smoking from standardization of laboratory methods for evaluation of toxicant emissions and human exposure to real-time tobacco smoke toxicant sampling in natural environments to biological assays of health effects of hookah smoking. This science is of great importance to inform the regulators about effects of actual and secondhand exposure to waterpipe smoke.
Objective 2: This plenary seeks to improve information regarding funding opportunities to study emerging tobacco products other than cigarettes.


Presentation 1: Emerging global trend on waterpipe tobacco smoking
Presentation 2: Real-time waterpipe tobacco smoke toxicant sampling in the natural environment
Presentation 3: Laboratory methods for evaluating waterpipe smoke emissions and exposure
Presentation 4: Funding opportunities for waterpipe research

Panel Country Experience and Communications Campaign:

Panelist 1:  Waterpipe epidemic in the Middle East
Panelist 2: Imported waterpipe epidemic: situation on the ground
Panelist 3:   Tobacco regulatory goals

Conclusions and summary by chairs

The protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products - next steps for entry into force

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recognizes that illicit tobacco trade contributes to the tobacco epidemic. Illicit tobacco products - whether smuggled or illegally manufactured - are estimated to account for around 10% of the global cigarette market and an estimated loss of government revenue of 60 billion USD per year globally. Illicit tobacco products are cheaper and more accessible, especially to vulnerable groups such as youth and the poor. 

The international community has responded to the threat of illicit tobacco trade by negotiating and adopting an international treaty: the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, based on Article 15 of the WHO FCTC. Adopted in 2012, the Protocol is open for ratification and accession by all Parties to the WHO FCTC. Its entry into force will require 40 ratifications. 54 FCTC Parties signed the Protocol, and as of 7 January 2015, six have also ratified it (Nicaragua, Uruguay, Gabon, Mongolia, Austria and Spain).

Objectives of the tri-plenary:

Objective 1:  The session will provide an overview of the status of the Protocol. A representative of a Party that has ratified the Protocol will share the experience of the process of ratification, including challenges.
Objective 2: The session will also address obstacles that Parties face in the ratification process, possibilities for facilitation of Protocol ratification, and proposed approaches to achieving the necessary multi-sectoral discussion by Parties.

Moderated Panel Discussion

Conclusions and summary by chair

Trade and tobacco issues relevant to the WHO FCTC

In the Conference of the Parties’ Punta del Este and Seoul Declarations, the Parties to the WHO FCTC declared their commitment to prioritize the implementation of health measures designed to control tobacco consumption, and their determination not to allow tobacco industry interference to slow or prevent the development and implementation of tobacco control measures in the interests of public. The session will provide an update of Parties’ deliberations at COP6.

In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the relationship between the WHO FCTC and international trade and investment agreements and the implications of this relationship for effective implementation of the Convention. This occurs against a background of legal challenges to implementation of tobacco-control measures in WTO dispute settlement proceedings and under international investment agreements, as well as in domestic forums. In addition to trade- and investment-related challenges, many governments are being challenged by the tobacco industry in domestic courts in relation to WHO FCTC implementation. Some Parties have already reported successful outcomes of such domestic legal challenges. The WHO FCTC has been an important factor in the positive outcome of some of these decisions. During the plenary, a number of Parties will speak about their experience with litigation brought by the tobacco industry, on the domestic and international levels.

Proposals on how to safeguard domestic policies from legal challenges initiated by the tobacco industry and opportunities for assisting Parties which face such legal challenges will also be discussed.

Objectives of the tri-plenary:

Objective 1: To inform on the outcome of the deliberations of trade and investment issues relevant to the implementation of the WHO FCTC at COP6;
Objective 2: To share Parties’ experience in tobacco-related litigation, including Australia, Thailand, and Uruguay, focusing on lessons learnt;
Objective 3: To identify mechanisms to avoid litigation while implementing the WHO FCTC and for addressing tobacco industry-initiated litigation in national and global settings

Welcome and introductions by chairs

Presentation 1: How can governments safeguard the measures taken to implement the WHO FCTC, and avoid related litigation?
Presentation 2: Outcome of discussions at 6th session of Conference of the Parties (COP6)

Panel discussion: Experiences and challenges faced by Parties in tobacco-related domestic and international litigation

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS): Framework Convention on Tobacco Control FCTC Art. 20,14,8 and crosscutting

Electronic cigarettes, also called “e-cigarettes” or “e-cigs”, are the best known electronic nicotine delivery systems. Interest in e-cigarettes has been growing recently among smokers, manufacturers, including leading cigarette companies, and also among tobacco control health professionals, researchers and advocates who are concerned with their various risks at the individual and public health level.

E-cigarettes have been marketed aggressively by companies, which now include transnational tobacco companies. With their increasing popularity, experts, media and governments have raised many questions about their risks and benefits, including their potential to help quit smoking and reduce smoking-attributable diseases, and their potential to re-normalize or re-socialize smoking or their potential to prolong smoker’s dependence of tobacco.

Recently, the Conference of the Parties of the WHO FCTC discussed possible avenues for the regulation of such devices in order to maximize its benefits and minimize their risks.

Objectives of the tri-plenary:    

Objective 1: To understand the public health benefits and risks of ENDS
Objective 2: To understand the potential efficacy of ENDS as a nicotine replacement therapy
Objective 3: To understand policy and regulatory objectives and options for ENDS
Objective 4: To appreciate the concerns regarding tobacco industry involvement with the ENDS business


Presentation 1: WHO’s position on ENDS as articulated at the 6th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC
Presentation 2: Decision by the Conference of the Parties on ENDS
Presentation 3: A Perspective on ENDS and their Regulation
Presentation 4: A Perspective on ENDS and their Regulation
Presentation 5: How Panama banned ENDS
Presentation 6: How Australia regulated ENDS as medicines
Presentation 7: How the EU regulated ENDS as tobacco products

Read more about the WHO FCTC

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