«UNITED NATIONS AD HOC INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE ON TOBACCO CONTROL REPORT OF THE SIXTH SESSION GENEVA, SWITZERLAND 30 NOVEMBER - 1 DECEMBER 2005 1. ...»
WHO suggested making clear and concrete recommendations to the SG and to ECOSOC in support of 1) smoke free policy at the UN and of 2) a ban on tobacco sales on UN premises. The SG should consider implementing a smoke-free policy in order to protect his staff. Consequently, no staff service would be provided where the delegates smoke.
Participants agreed on the basic outline of such a recommendation, using as a template the joint letter written by UNICEF and WHO, citing the two above points, and adding two additional qualifications: 1) that smoking bans be negotiated in consultation with staff, and 2) that any measures approach the issue from an occupational safety and health perspective. The report to ECOSOC should also recall the Secretary General's bulletin in 2003 promulgating that the UN premises are smoke-free. Furthermore, it should also mention the large number of countries adhering to he WHO FCTC and accepting the measures outlined there, including the one on banning smoking in public places.
Responding to a question by the WB, a representative from the WHO agreed that while such a letter could not overcome objections by delegates at UN headquarters who resist smoking bans, the letter could raise the possibility of a resolution in the General Assembly on the issue. Alternatively, the idea of a resolution could be raised in the ECOSOC meeting itself. The representative from the WHO, citing experience from the resolution on the WHO FCTC, emphasized that any such resolution would have to be very focused or it will risk failure in what is an already difficult process of adoption.
7. Poverty, the Millennium Development Goals and tobacco Tobacco and development - Overview of TFI's work since the last meeting of the Task Force (Ms Anne-Marie Perucic) Ms Perucic, TFI, presented an overview of TFI's work in tobacco and development since the last meeting of the Task Force. She cited World No Tobacco Day in 2004, a campaign which highlighted, based mainly on evidence from developing countries, how tobacco use and growing increase the poverty of individuals, families and countries.
WHO/TFI organized during the UNCTAD XI conference a parallel event entitled "Globalization of the Tobacco Epidemic: Tobacco Control and Development" on 17 June
2004. At the end of the panel a statement was made by the participants, which stressed the link between tobacco, poverty and the MDGs, as well as the importance of incorporating tobacco control in the development programmes of countries and intergovernmental agencies. The SG report to ECOSOC on Activities of the Task Force, 2004 highlighted the link between tobacco and development, and called for stronger collaboration with UN agencies to strengthen tobacco control at country level. The report focused on three main issues: 1) the fact that consumption and production are both increasing in developing countries; 2) the use of tobacco by the very poor, the pitfalls for small farmers engaged in tobacco production, the negative environmental impact of tobacco, and the dangers of the increasing use of tobacco by women in developing countries, and 3) the strong link between tobacco and the MDGs.
On the later point, she calls attention to the WHO/TFI Publication of "The Millennium Development Goals and Tobacco Control: An opportunity for global partnership" (2005)
as an important document, mapping out how tobacco relates to all eight of the MDGs:
from poverty and hunger, to education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS and malaria, as well as environmental sustainability. On the development of a global partnership for development, she insists that MDG implementation should incorporate tobacco control. In its future work, TFI will be encouraging publication of studies on tobacco and poverty in other developing countries, including ongoing work in Bolivia, Nigeria and the Philippines. It will also organize national workshops to assist governments in developing poverty reduction strategies for the achievement of the MDGs which include tobacco control.
Responding to questions from participants, WHO insisted that Finance and Trade departments are being involved in national awareness workshops, which bring together representatives from all domains, not exclusively health. Developing countries are being encouraged to put tobacco control on their development agenda and request funding. UN agencies and the UNDP in particular need to be involved at country level for facilitating the implementation of the WHO FCTC.
UNESCO suggested that, given that so many issues were already being imposed on the Resident Representatives (Res Rep) of the UNDP in countries in their Poverty Strategies, the Task Force should focus on providing data and evidence to inform and encourage their participation. It was suggested as a starting point to encourage Res Reps participation in national workshops organized by WHO aimed at facilitating the implementation of the WHO FCTC.
Participants agreed upon next steps, which stated that the role of UN agencies in tobacco control must be clearly mapped out and discussed, at the organizational and country levels, in order to best use their comparative advantages. Agencies must also be more active in involving other non-UN, non-Health bodies and social partners must be involved, such as Finance, Trade, Customs and Labour bodies. Focus, however, should be on gathering and analyzing information, knowledge and evidence. Agencies and countries are already heavily burdened by MDG work; it is important to first provide evidence to these agencies and countries. We need to find ways of collaborating between agencies without creating added burden of tobacco as an MDG issue, and find ways of reaching the informal sector. Also important is the development of agency capacity, including but not restricted to the naming of contact people (focal points at regional and country level).
8. Update on the WHO FCTC and preparation for its implementation Presentation on the WHO FCTC and the results of the study on identifying existing and potential sources of funding for the implementation of the WHO FCTC (Dr Douglas Bettcher) Dr Bettcher informed the participants on the status of the WHO FCTC. As of 31 December 2005, there were 114 Parties, located across the globe and across income groups. The first Conference of Parties (COP) will meet from 6 to 17 February 2006 in Geneva. The COP is expected to adopt the Rules of Procedure; designate the Permanent Secretariat and adopt the modalities of its functioning; adopt the budget for the period 2006-2007; consider the study on existing sources and mechanisms of assistance prepared by the Interim Secretariat; recommend a template for reporting; and suggest possible protocols to be negotiated.
As the WHO FCTC moves from ratification to implementation, WHO is increasingly dependent on partnerships with other UN agencies, international organizations and NGOs for its success. Multisectorality is indeed a cornerstone of the treaty. He outlined the ways in which the other agencies and bodies present could assist the WHO in this effort. He highlighted FAO's technical potential input in the implementation of Article 17 on the provision of support for "economically viable alternative activities for tobacco workers, growers and, as the case may be, individual sellers”, and article 22, on cooperation in the scientific, technical, and legal fields and provision of related expertise. He also noted cooperation with the ILO on article 8, relating to protection from exposure to tobacco smoke. Citing the Preamble to the WHO FCTC, which states that Parties are "deeply concerned about the escalation in smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption by children and adolescents worldwide", he singled out Article 16 on sales to and by minors as an area of cooperation with UNICEF. Article 12 on education, communication, training and public awareness was highlighted as being of particular relevance to UNESCO, and Article 18 on the protection of the environment and the health of persons states to UNEP. Article 6 on price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco invites considerable input from the World Bank and the IMF, and Article 15 on illicit trade implies an important role for WCO, OLAF and Europol. UNFPA, WTO and UNDP would also be invaluable partners, and their absence at the meeting was regretfully noted.
As per Article 26.5 (c) of the WHO FCTC, a study was commissioned to examine existing and potential sources of funding and technical assistance for tobacco control and implementation activities. In addition to such assistance from the WHO, the study found that 5 other International Organizations stated that funding was or is available: FAO, UNICEF, UNFIP, UNODC, and the WB. The European Commission was also cited as a possible source. Nonetheless, a comprehensive system of tobacco funding for target countries is at a developing stage. Recognition is needed on the part of the international donor community that tobacco is a fundamental part of the MDGs. It will be up to developing and transition countries to prioritise tobacco control within their country strategies to begin the necessary dialogue with donors.
He concluded by enumerating some of the areas of desired participation of UN agencies and other bodies in the implementation phase: 1) assist in providing coordinated responses to country concerns/questions; 2) participate in policy dialogue with developing country governments on a range of sectoral issues; 3) participate as experts in some awareness building workshops; 4) help identify research needs and provide technical inputs at country level
In ensuing discussions, the FAO added that in addition to work on diversification, the FAO could contribute to tobacco control in matters relating to subsidies and trade, provided resources are available. The ILO could also provide input on activities related to Article 12 -- education and communication -- which complements the objectives of the SOLVE program, as well as work towards a code of practice for workplace tobacco issues. The ILO pointed out that its safety and health professionals around the world could be a valuable resource. The World Bank highlighted that though it could try to build tobacco into macro programmes, it is difficult to push the tobacco agenda without a request from the country, from the Ministry of Finance for example. With its contacts in education and media, UNESCO could also participate in the education and communication aspects of the WHO FCTC. Europol offered its help in combating illicit trade in cigarettes, but said that it was up to TFI to augment awareness of the issue amongst EU States, for whom tobacco smuggling is not currently a priority.
Furthermore, the ILO inquired whether there was any possibility that funds might flow two ways -- that is, if a pool of funds was to be made available, could it also flow to the other agencies. The representative from WHO asserted that as the WHO FCTC is a multisectoral treaty there would definitely be demand for this sort of flow of resources, and that requests for funding would be considered as the needs of Contracting Parties dictated. He expressed the hope that this Task Force meeting would serve as a catalyst for creating opportunities for joint projects with other agencies, building on the successes of 9 previous such ventures. He resolved to specify in more precise terms the sort of projects that might be undertaken over the next two years or so. He also pointed out that an invitation letter was being sent to all the agencies asking for their participation in the Conference of Parties.
9. Illicit trade in tobacco products Report of the workshop on "Tobacco-Health Inequalities and Illicit Trade" organized by the Department of Health in the United Kingdom, London, 17-18 October 2005 (Ms Anne Grosskurth) Ms Grosskurth, UK Department of Health, spoke of the Workshop on illicit tobacco trade at the Health Inequalities Summit of the UK Presidency of the EU. She cited growing supply of cheap smuggled tobacco in workplaces, public housing estates and colleges and increasing prevalence among working class communities as reasons for the choice of illicit tobacco trade for the Summit. The workshop aims were to highlight the impact of tobacco smuggling on health inequalities, bring together all agencies involved in control of illicit trade, generate EU understanding of value of a protocol, share experience and good practice, and identify measures for a possible illicit trade protocol. The international trend in illicit tobacco trade is characterized by the bigger role of organised crime and by the growth in intra-EU smuggling. Many states ignore the problem while others lack the capacity to deal with it. In countries that do choose to do something, the results are encouraging. In the UK, through close work with manufacturers and a tough seizure policy, there has been a reverse in the rise in smuggled cigarettes – which now stands at 17%. Over 9 billion sticks have been seized in 4 years. The workshop concluded that illicit trade makes cheap tobacco easily available to poor people and young people. It boosts smoking rates in those groups with devastating health consequences, and undermines tobacco control measures like smoke-free policies, high taxes, media campaigns and cessation programmes. It is a global problem needing global solutions.
The WHO FCTC protocol should be a priority. The EU group could press for it with support from the Euro region. There is a need to build on and link together valuable work done by OLAF, Europol, WCO, TFI and others. WHO claims that the economics of tobacco control has put smuggling on the radar screen. The intervention of the UK government and the EC contribute to a call for a protocol relating to illicit trade. The WHO will be in contact with OLAF in order to draft a document on the illicit tobacco trade for COP purposes.
Activities of EUROPOL in combating illicit trade in tobacco products (Mr Andreas Mausolf) Mr Mausolf, Europol, clarified that Europol's mission is to make a significant contribution to the EU’s Law Enforcement actions in preventing & combating serious international crime, with a particular emphasis on the criminal organisations involved.