Leaving 2018 with a full basket of accomplishments and entering 2019 with renewed energy

Secretariat of the WHO FCTC

2018 was a very productive and successful year for global tobacco control. The Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) has walked along with Parties to the WHO FCTC, the World Health Organization (WHO), international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders to set the path for more progress in the coming years to protect present and future generations from the shattering effects of tobacco.

Here are highlights from 2018 of the support provided to Parties to the WHO FCTC and to the Parties to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products as they implement both global tobacco-control treaties.

The Eighth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8)

COP8 was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1 to 6 October 2018. The session was attended by over 1200 participants comprised of delegations from 148 Parties and representatives of WHO, other United Nations agencies, IGOs, NGOs and civil society.

COP8 included the first-ever High-level Segment on Tobacco Control and Global Climate Action in an effort to raise awareness of the need for tobacco-control efforts to integrate strategies to combat the destructive impacts of tobacco on the environment and sustainable development.

Secretariat of the WHO FCTC

The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, sent a written message to the delegates, in which he highlighted the need for a holistic approach that goes beyond health and embraces all areas in which tobacco has an impact. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on governments to strengthen international cooperation to implement the WHO FCTC and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals .

The Conference adopted a Global Strategy to Accelerate Tobacco Control (formerly referred to as the “ Medium-Term Strategic Framework”) that outlines a new action plan to scale up the global tobacco control agenda over the next few years.

In another significant action to ensure WHO FCTC progress, COP8 adopted a series of measures for preventing further interference by tobacco industry in public health policies, including maximizing transparency to protect WHO FCTC-related sessions and proceedings from the intrusion of tobacco industry representatives and interests.

First Session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

On 25 September 2018 the Protocol entered into force officially, moving another step forward in global efforts in tobacco control for better public health.

The First Session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP1) to the Protocol was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 8 to 10 October 2018. MOP1 discussions drew the participation of 44 State Parties to the Protocol and 56 State non-Parties, along with representatives from civil society, WHO and other IGOs. Some 629 delegates attended the historic session.

Delegates reached an agreement to create a working group to produce a comprehensive report to showcase the best practices and experiences of State Parties in the implementation of tracking and tracing systems. In addition, Parties at MOP1 agreed on a number of decisions to work towards greater collaboration with government agencies, as well as regional and international bodies in charge of law enforcement and customs, which will be key to effective implementation of the Protocol. Read all the MOP1 decisions here.

International cooperation and promoting the profile of the WHO FCTC in the global development and health agenda

The WHO FCTC Secretariat continued to work with Parties and observers to promote the profile of the Convention in the international development and health agenda.

The Third United Nations High-level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) took place on 27 September 2018 in New York City. The Political Declaration of the meeting called for the acceleration of the implementation of the WHO FCTC by its Parties, while continuing to implement tobacco-control measures without any tobacco industry interference and to encourage other countries to consider becoming Parties to the Convention.

A thematic group on tobacco control has also been established by the UN Inter-agency Task Force (UNIATF) on the Prevention and Control of NCDs under the leadership of the WHO FCTC Secretariat.

In 2018, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a resolution reiterating its call in 2017 to the United Nations System to prevent tobacco industry interference and effectively separate its funding from the industry.

After monitoring three sessions of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Convention Secretariat welcomed the adoption of the resolution to discontinue the private partnership between ILO and the tobacco industry in preventing child labour in tobacco growing.

Global Progress Report was launched in 2018, as were many other publications

Launched during COP8, the 2018 Global Progress Report on the Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control highlighted the evident improvement during the year of the implementation of most articles of the WHO FCTC. Based on official information submitted from the Parties to the Convention Secretariat, significant advances have been noted in the implementation of time-bound measures related to smoke-free environments, packaging and labelling, and the ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. For the first time since the WHO FCTC entered into force in 2005, all Parties have formally submitted at least one implementation report.

Cigarette smoking: an assessment of tobacco’s global environmental footprint across its entire supply chain, and policy strategies to reduce it was among the many publications issued in 2018 by the WHO FCTC. The research findings on the environmental damage resulting from the global tobacco supply chain are documented in this new report, prepared in partnership with Imperial College London.

In addition, an issue brief showing the importance of the implementation of the WHO FCTC as part of innovative approaches to the control of HIV and tuberculosis entitled Integrating tobacco control into tuberculosis and HIV responses was prepared in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme.

FCTC 2030 and other development assistance initiatives

The Convention Secretariat is providing general support and materials for all low- and middle-income countries to promote the implementation of the WHO FCTC. This support includes workshops, toolkits, South–South and Triangular cooperation, and other forms of assistance to national governments.

Through the FCTC 2030 project, funded by Australia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Convention Secretariat continued to provide intensive support to 15 selected Parties to strengthen implementation of the WHO FCTC in accordance with their respective strategies and workplans. Assistance has been provided to create or strengthen national tobacco-control strategic plans and establish or reform national tobacco-control coordination mechanisms, as well as to draft, review, implement or enforce their tobacco-control laws or regulations.

Some Parties were supported in undertaking tobacco taxation analyses and modelling, while others received assistance to improve their graphic health warnings or to conduct feasibility studies on alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers and investment cases studies.

Despite the achievements of 2018, the New Year presents many challenges that the Convention Secretariat stands ready to face with hard work and continuous commitment as we assist our Parties in collaboration with our partners.

We are looking forward to continuing this journey, and we will carry forward with renewed energy and with the guidance provided by our Parties. Looking forward to a healthy 2019 for all.