The fourth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is under way this week in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
The COP, which is comprised of the countries that have ratified the World Health Organization’s global tobacco treaty and acts as the governing body for the treaty, meets bi-annually and strives for the effective implementation of the treaty. The American Cancer Society has been a key participant in, and supporter of, the FCTC process since it began in 1999.
Throughout the COP, a wide range of issues of vital importance to tobacco control are being discussed. These include the development of consistent and effective tobacco tax policies, the regulation of tobacco products, the development of global guidelines for the treatment of tobacco dependence, and the consideration of a formal process for the monitoring and evaluation of the FCTC, among others. Another important issue being addressed is the global control of tobacco smuggling, which constitutes a particular threat for population health by increasing the affordability of tobacco and therefore encouraging higher tobacco use.
The weeklong event opened on Monday with an address by Uruguayan President José Mujica, who thanked the delegates for their support of Uruguay’s fight against the multinational tobacco industry in its efforts to remain a leader in tobacco control in Latin America. Mujica also said he plans to continue the strong tobacco control policies established by his predecessor, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, who also spoke on Monday. In addition, Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, addressed the COP from Geneva. She highlighted the unprecedented progress in global tobacco control since the adoption of the FCTC, but warned against the unprecedented attacks by the tobacco industry as it seeks to maintain its profits worldwide.
On November 17, Articles 9 and 10 of the treaty, which deal with the crucial issue of tobacco product regulation, were the subject of comments, questions, and debates, given their particular relevance to address the strategies used by the tobacco industry to increase the “attractiveness” of cigarettes to youth, notably cigarette flavoring.Today’s discussions are focusing on the following FCTC provisions: Article 12, (on the provision of evidence-based tobacco information to the public; Article 14 (tobacco dependence treatment); and Articles 17 and 18 (tobacco crop substitution and agricultural issues, respectively).
This COP comes at a crucial time because it is the last meeting of this group before the high-level meeting on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in September at the United Nations. The decisions reached in Punta del Este will have a direct effect on the conduct and outcome of the U.N. summit and subsequent approaches to the control of NCDs worldwide, given the central role of tobacco as a root cause of the major NCDs, including heart and lung disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Representatives from the American Cancer Society’s Global Tobacco Control programs are in Punta del Este this week and are reporting on the main events on Twitter .