Pacific Island countries meet to develop tobacco control measures

Nadi, Fiji
23 September 2016

Two tobacco control meetings have been convened for the Western Pacific Region (Pacific countries). The first is a multisectoral workshop for Pacific Island countries to promote entry into force of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. That event will be followed by a pre-COP7 workshop for the same Parties. Both events will run back-to-back, starting, 26th September and concluding, 30th September.

The 14 Parties meeting in Fiji are: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

As the implementation of the Protocol will require the active involvement of various government sectors, the first meeting extended an invitation beyond the Parties’ Ministries of Health. Customs Administrations, and an additional government sector, selected by each Party, have played an important role in the process of each country becoming a Party to the Protocol.

Katharina Kummer Peiry is Senior Legal Adviser at the Convention Secretariat and she said ahead of the meetings, “The Pacific Islands countries that are gathered here are very vulnerable to illicit trade because of their many sea borders that are challenging to control. This workshop is a great opportunity to discuss with different government sectors, such as health, customs, law enforcement, justice and trade, how we can fight illicit trade and how we can best cooperate internationally. ”

During the Protocol workshop participants shared their experiences on countering illicit trade at a national level and reviewed the extent and forms of illicit trade in the Pacific. Parties reviewed the status of each country on its way to becoming a Party to the Protocol and outline the challenges encountered. The value of meeting at subregional events is that different government sectors can explain how they contribute to the fight against illicit trade and how they can better collaborate at both national and international levels.

Intergovernmental organizations attending the workshops are the Oceania Customs Organization Secretariat and the Pacific Community. In addition the nongovernmental organization, the Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control participated.

To support discussions, a member of the expert panel on the Protocol from the region participated in the workshop. The meetings are hosted by the Government of Fiji and financially supported by the Convention Secretariat with funds provided by the European Commission, and a contribution by the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific.