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News from Tobacco control in Europe
More news from the FCTC meeting in Moscow held from 13 to 18 October 2014
In the newsletter of October, we stressed the importance of the adoption of the guidelines on taxation of tobacco products.
More information on those guidelines can be found in the excellent taxation report of the Framework Convention Alliance: http://www.fctc.org/images/stories/Guide_Art_6_guidelines_1014_WEB.pdf
But taxation was not the only topic, which was discussed in Moscow. Other decisions were for instance:
• With respect to the illicit trade protocol, the key development was the decision to create a "panel of experts" to help prospective Parties to the Protocol with the technical aspects of preparing for ratification and implementation. So far only 5 parties have ratified the Protocol and 40 parties are necessary for the entry into force of the Protocol.
• On tobacco industry interference (Article 5.3 of the FCTC) , Parties agreed that more work is needed, both at the national level and also to deal with tobacco industry efforts to forge "partnerships" with various international organizations. The Secretariat and WHO now have a clear mandate to tackle these issues, and we'll have further discussion on this at the next meeting in 2016.
• On smokeless tobacco products, there was a good deal of debate between Parties who wanted a reference to "banning" the sale of (at least some) smokeless products and those who wanted to "strictly regulate" them. The language adopted essentially leaves the choice up to Parties.
• On ENDS/ ENNDS ( better known as e-cigarettes), debate was lengthy, as expected. The final decision invites Parties to achieve "at least" four general regulatory objectives and, like the smokeless decision, leaves the details up to individual Parties, who are invited "to consider prohibiting or regulating ENDS/ENNDS, including as tobacco products, medicinal products, consumer products, or other categories, as appropriate, taking into account a high level of protection for human health".
The full details of all decisions of the Sixth Conference of the Parties of the WHO FCTC can be found at the FCTC website http://apps.who.int/gb/fctc/E/E_cop6.htm
Luk Joossens, ECL Advocacy Officer, Tobacco Control
179 Parties to the WHO FCTC adopt guidelines on taxation of tobacco products in Moscow
All Parties ratified the WHO FCTC adopted on the 14 October 2014 in Moscow guidelines to implement tax policies on tobacco products. Those guidelines should support countries to achieve better tax policies and higher taxes on tobacco products. The full text of the guidelines can be found through the following link.
According to those guidelines, tax and price policies are widely recognized to be one of the most effective means of influencing the demand for tobacco products.
"The following guiding principles underpin the implementation of Article 6 of the WHO FCTC:
1.1 Determining tobacco taxation policies is a sovereign right of the Parties
All parts of the guidelines respect the sovereign right of the Parties to determine and establish their taxation policies, as set out in Article 6.2 of the WHO FCTC.
1.2 Effective tobacco taxes significantly reduce tobacco consumption and prevalence
Effective taxes on tobacco products that lead to higher real consumer prices (inflation-adjusted) are desirable because they lower consumption and prevalence, and thereby in turn reduce mortality and morbidity and improve the health of the population. Increasing tobacco taxes is particularly important for protecting young people from initiating or continuing tobacco consumption
1.3 Effective tobacco taxes are an important source of revenue
Effective tobacco taxes contribute significantly to State budgets. Increasing tobacco taxes generally further increases government revenues, as the increase in tax normally outweighs the decline in consumption of tobacco products.
1.4 Tobacco taxes are economically efficient and reduce health inequalities
Tobacco taxes are generally considered to be economically efficient as they apply to a product with inelastic demand. Low- and middle-income population groups are more responsive to tax and price increases; therefore consumption and prevalence are reduced in these groups by greater magnitudes than in higher-income groups, resulting in a reduction in health inequalities and tobacco-related poverty.
1.5 Tobacco tax systems and administration should be efficient and effective
Tobacco tax systems should be structured to minimize the costs of compliance and administration while ensuring that the desired level of tax revenue is raised and health objectives are achieved.
Efficient and effective administration of tobacco tax systems enhances tax compliance and collection of tax revenues while reducing tax evasion and the risk of illicit trade.
1.6 Tobacco tax policies should be protected from vested interests
The development, implementation and enforcement of tobacco tax and price policies as part of public health policies should be protected from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry, including tactics of using the issue of smuggling in hindering implementation of tax and price policies, as required under Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC and consistent with the guidelines for its implementation as well as from any other actual and potential conflicts of interest"
Luk Joossens, ECL Advocacy Officer, Tobacco Control
EURO region Parties gathered between 18-21 March 2014 in Budapest to discuss the ongoing implementation of the WHO FCTC. The meeting was organised by the FCTC Secretariat and kindly hosted by the Hungarian Ministry of Health. In addition, representatives from the World Bank, the UNDP and UNCTAD were in attendance. During the workshop, Parties discussed a wide range of implementation issues and identified challenges to more comprehensive implementation of the Convention. Many representatives from Parties raised concern that tobacco control legislation was being blocked by national parliaments who are increasingly lobbied by the tobacco industry and taking a negative stance as a result.
Almost 500 delegates met in Istanbul from 26 to 29 April 2014 for the Sixth European Conference on Tobacco or Health which was organised by the "Turkish Association for Cancer Research and Control" in collaboration with "National Coalition on Tobacco or Health" under the auspices of ECL. Highlights of the conference were the presentations by EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg and MEP Linda McAvan who explained the story behind the adoption of the Tobacco Directive.
The green party in the European parliament organised a workshop in Brussels on lobbying, corruption and lack of transparency in the EU on 10 April 2014, which was attended by some 100 persons with speakers from Transparency International, Corporate Europe Observatory and the European ombudsman. Luk Joossens from ECL was asked to give a presentations on the lessons learned from the sudden resignation of Commissioner dalli in October 2012.
The three meetings in Budapest, Istanbul and Brussels had something in common : the tobacco lobby is very powerful in Europe and there is a need to implement Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC convention which stipulates that decision-makers "should interact with the tobacco industry only when and to the extent strictly necessary to enable them to effectively regulate the tobacco industry and tobacco products." "If interactions with the tobacco industry are necessary, interactions should be conducted transparently. "