From 19 to 21 March 2013, the first regional workshop that tackles the issue of trade in relation to tobacco control is being held jointly with WHO headquarters. This workshop gathers experts from the health, trade and commerce sectors to:
discuss the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the World Trade Organization agreements and other international treaties related to tobacco trade and commerce
clarify the salient provisions of these international agreements and the linkages between them and the WHO FCTC
brainstorm on the potential for future collaboration in tobacco control within the context of the WHO FCTC and other international treaties that regulate global trade and commerce.
Since its adoption in 2003, the WHO FCTC brought tobacco control to the forefront in many sectors, including trade, finance and commerce. Tobacco control became not only a health priority but a multifaceted policy intervention that has implications on various policies in the areas of finance, trade and commerce. The interaction and harmonization between the different sectors became a necessity in order to achieve the comprehensiveness needed in successful tobacco control both at national and regional levels.
This multisectoral commitment flagged by the WHO FCTC was reiterated by the recently developed International protocol to curb illicit trade in tobacco products, adopted by the Parties to the WHO FCTC in November 2012. Upon its entry into force, the trade and customs sectors will be responsible for developing effective systems to monitor and track tobacco trade movement across the globe, starting at national level.
The tobacco industry continues to exert all its efforts to undermine the implementation and the impact of the WHO FCTC, by thwarting the provisions of other international trade agreements and trade liberalization. The tobacco industry is relentless in its efforts to create a false reality about the WHO FCTC being in contradiction with such agreements.
However, strong evidence has shown that tobacco control is a win-win policy for all sectors of the government, including trade and commerce. Governments across the globe have gained not only in terms of health but also in terms of revenue generation by implementing stronger tobacco control measures, including trade regulations for tobacco products, coupled with improved taxation policies.