February 28, 2024

Global Progress Achieved at WHO Tobacco Treaty Negotiations in Panama

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 13, 2024 – Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) led a delegation to the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) for the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Panama City, Panama from February 5 – 10, 2024.

To safeguard the global progress from tobacco industry interference, the decisions of COP10 were only known to attending country delegations and civil society organizations until the closing plenary on Saturday, February 10.

ASH welcomes several groundbreaking decisions that will kick start global progress to accelerate the end of the tobacco epidemic:

Human Rights Decision: encourages Parties to consider including WHO FCTC principles and implementation efforts when engaging with the United Nations human rights mechanisms;

Article 2.1 on Forward Looking Measures (Tobacco Endgame) Decision: an Expert group was established to explore cutting-edge policies which go beyond minimum FCTC measures and report back to COP11. This will support progress towards the tobacco endgame.

Article 18 (Environment) Decision: recognizing the extensive harm caused to the environment by the entire lifecycle of the cigarette, from production to use and disposal including the environmental impact of filters.

Article 19 (Liability): re-established an expert group on liability, to help inform Parties on how to use civil and criminal laws to take legal action against the tobacco industry.

Panama Declaration- highlighted the above Decisions and reiterated the determination of Parties to prioritize their right to protect public health.

“ASH is honored to have worked on the FCTC since its founding and to be present again for a historic COP where cross-cutting issues including human rights and the environment were finally being formally addressed, along with progress towards the tobacco endgame,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health. “We will use these COP10 decisions in our global advocacy moving forward to strengthen public health protections worldwide.”

The COP10 head of the ASH delegation Laurent Huber, was joined by ASH Staff Chris Bostic and Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy as well as ASH Board Member Carolyn Dresler. ASH was joined by Cynthia Callard, Coral Gartner, Marita Hefler, Heewon Kang, Carol McGruder, and Jessica Rath.

“I felt proud to be part of the ASH delegation and to promote an ambitious tobacco control agenda that addresses the important environmental and human rights aspects of this global epidemic,” said Cynthia Callard, Physicians for a Smokefree Canada.

“Action on Smoking and Health’s participation at the COP was impressive; the presence, preparation, input, negotiations, and persistence achieved the desired outcomes. I couldn’t be prouder to be with them and watch them in action,” said Carolyn Dresler, MD, MPH, Board Member, Action on Smoking and Health.

“I was proud to be part of the ASH delegation to COP10 and to support civil society’s advocacy for action on key tobacco control issues including forward-looking measures including ‘endgame’ measures, tobacco industry liability, protection of the environment and regulating the contents and emissions of tobacco products,” said Professor Coral Gartner, Director of NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame, School of Public Health, The University of Queensland.

“Thank you, ASH, for your diligence and hard work over all these years. As a first time COP delegate, I have a renewed respect and admiration for the vital role you have played in the creation, implementation, and improvement to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” said Carol McGruder, Co-Chair, African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. “Witnessing the knowledge, discernment, coordination, endurance, and diplomacy required for this process was extraordinary.”

“As a first-time COP attendee, I was honored to join the ASH delegation and learn from its leadership – particularly on human rights, FCTC Article 2.1 forward-looking measures to achieve the tobacco endgame, protecting the environment, and tobacco industry liability. Seeing the Parties reach consensus on all these decisions highlighted the important role of civil society in the FCTC as it continually adapts to address the changing context of the tobacco epidemic,” said Associate Professor Marita Hefler, Tobacco Endgame Research Program Lead, Menzies School of Health Research, Australia.

“I had the privilege of participating as part of the ASH delegation at COP10. As a first-time attendee, it has been amazing to witness and contribute to the advocacy efforts led by the dedicated ASH team,” said Dr. Heewon Kang, Research Assistant Professor, Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University, Visiting Academic Fellow/Scholar, Centre of Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame, School of Public Health, The University of Queensland. “Particularly noteworthy is the honor of being present at the COP where all ASH targets have been successfully attained. The efforts of an organized civil society have been and will remain extremely important in achieving a tobacco-free world.”

“I was honored to join the dedicated ASH delegation at COP10 to share my research on the pervasive smoking imagery in streaming shows, music videos and movies,” said Dr. Jessica Rath, Vice President, Truth Initiative Schroeder Institute®. “The entertainment industry should not allow their platforms to help the tobacco industry addict a new generation of young people to tobacco.”

The FCTC COP is where global tobacco policy is written and monitored and where consensus is achieved on how to tackle the tobacco industry and advance health. Decisions adopted at previous COPs are what normalized smoke-free policies around the world, the banning of tobacco advertising, the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products, and even the need to protect public health policies from tobacco industry interference.

ASH applauds all COP10 delegates who remained dedicated and committed to public health during the negotiations, and we stand ready to support the implementation of the newly adopted decisions and cross-sectoral work that will help us end the tobacco epidemic in record time.

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