COP 9 & MOP 2: Interference by the Tobacco Industry and its Allies

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Background

The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is an international treaty that aims to reduce the demand and supply of tobacco. The WHO FCTC includes a specific obligation, Article 5.3, to protect public health policies from interference by the tobacco industry and those representing the interests of the tobacco industry. More information on Article 5.3, and tobacco industry attempts to undermine the FCTC, can be found on the TobaccoTactics FCTC page.

A summary and timeline of FCTC regulations can be found on:
FCTC Regulations on the Need to Protect Public Health Policies from Tobacco Industry Interference

FCTC parties usually meet every two years at a Conference of the Parties (COP). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 9th session, or COP 9 as it is called, was postponed from 2020 to November 2021, to be held virtually.

Immediately following COP 9 is the second Meeting of the Parties (MOP 2). This oversees the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. This treaty was adopted at COP 5 and addresses means of countering illicit trade in tobacco products.

This page summarises interference by the tobacco industry and its allies around the 9th Conference of the Parties (COP 9).  It also covers the second session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP2).

Incidents of documented interference at previous COPs can be found in a timeline on:
History of Interference by the Tobacco Industry and its Allies During COP and MOP

Grants from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) is wholly funded by Philip Morris International (PMI)

INNCO

  • In 2020, the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) received a grant of US$65,000 to: “assist the organization in its work to garner consensus and support for COP 9 to consider harm reduction as integral to tobacco control”.1During COP 9, INNCO organised some lobbying activities:
    • Published a report titled “Misinfodemic Dossier” criticising the WHO and Bloomberg Philanthropies.23
    • Organised a demonstration outside the UK Parliament.4
    • Participated in a parallel event organised by CAPHRA.5

    INNCO again had its application rejected for observer status at COP.6

Knowledge Action Change

  • Another major FSFW grantee, Knowledge-Action-Change (K-A-C), publisher of the Global State of Tobacco-Harm Reduction (GSTHR) reports, has criticised the FCTC and COP. K-A-C  released a GSTHR report titled “Fighting the Last War: The WHO and International Tobacco Control” on 27 October 2021.7 Fellow FSFW grantees, and now ex-President of the FSFW Derek Yach, spoke at the launch event. Ahead of the launch, GSTHR released a set of briefing papers that criticise the WHO FCTC and sought to use the UK’s stance on harm-reduction to influence international discussions at COP 9.8

Analysis of the FSFW’s 2020 tax return shows it awarded specific COP 9-related grants to two organisations, in Pakistan and Argentina, in addition to INNCO.1

Alternative Research Institute – Pakistan

  • Pakistan’s Alternative Research Institute, received US$176,400 in 2020 to “build a momentum to include smokers’ concern in tobacco efforts before the COP9”.9

Asociación Argentina de Servicios Médicos de Avanzada – Argentina

  • The Argentinian Asociación Argentina de Servicios Médicos de Avanzada, received US$128,850 from FSFW for a project to “garner consensus and support for the ninth session of Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP 9) to consider harm reduction as integral to tobacco control”.1

Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey – Turkey

  • In September 2021, the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), another FSFW grantee, 10 launched a report titled “The Economics of Curbing Smoking in Turkey: A Scoping Review”.11 The report argues that the effectiveness of the implementation of WHO FCTC measures in the countries that adopted them have not all been up to expectations.

Tobacco Industry Meeting with Government in Brazil

  • In August 2021, there was a collaboration meeting between members of the Brazilian government and the tobacco industry in preparation for COP 9. During this meeting, the tobacco industry asked for the support of the Brazilian government.12 A summary of tobacco industry positions was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to “ensure that the government takes into account the views of the tobacco supply chain and act to ensure that COP 9 does not result in harm to their interests”.13Civil society organisations denounced the industry’s attempts to interfere with the preparations for COP 9. As a result, the Brazilian National Commission for the Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (CONICQ), called for an open meeting in September. During this meeting, Federal Deputy for Rio Grande do Sul Marcelo Moraes and other government representatives, dismissed CONICQ efforts to discuss the Brazilian positions towards COP 9, arguing that CONICQ’s existence was under legal challenge.1314CONICQ was created in 2003, within the scope of the Ministry of Health, and has achieved international acclaimed for its achievements in tobacco control policies. However, along with other institutional spaces, the Commission was extinguished by the Decree No. 9,759/2019, during President Bolsonaro´s administration. The issue was taken to the Federal Supreme Court, where the measure was declared unconstitutional. After this decision, the Ministry of Health reinstated CONICQ´s legitimacy and existence. Over 70 organizations working in tobacco control in Brazil, Latin America and the world supported CONICQ and requested “the urgent and necessary formal reconstitution of the Conicq, by means of a presidential decree” 14 to prevent the tobacco industry undermining of the institution and any setbacks to the implementation of the FCTC.

COP Enquiry run by UK All Party Parliamentary Group

COP 9 highlights

Held virtually in 2021, COP9 provided the opportunity for Parties to meet and for some decisions to be made before 2023. However, most key discussions were postponed until COP10. Tobacco industry interference was detected, as the tobacco control community and several parties had warned.17

Interference Within the Conference of Parties

Statements by the delegations of some parties argued for the  inclusion of “all” stakeholders in tobacco control discussions.18 and for investment in harm reduction efforts. Delegations that were more actively using pro-industry statements were mostly coming from low-and middle-income countries (LMICs),1920 and from non-parties to the FCTC.21 Evidence shows that the tobacco industry puts even higher pressure into LMICs, where the FCTC implementation is often in its initial phases.2223

Noise around COP

Tobacco industry allies that could not attend COP9 sessions, did not miss the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the industry´s interests on social media and through small scale street demonstrations24 25 Attacks on WHO, COP and FCTC by tobacco industry allies aimed at undermining the importance of the work of WHO, the COP and the relevance of the FCTC, while at the same time requesting observer status to officially join COP.262728 Side events were organized to discuss what was happening at COP including parallel stream called “sCOPe” broadcast on YouTube.29

More detail on FSFW grantee activities during COP9 can be found in the STOP FSFW COP9 Monitoring Brief

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant Links

References

  1. abcFoundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2020 Tax Return, 17 May 2021, accessed May 2021
  2. INNCO, Bloomberg, World Health Organisation and the Vaping Misinfodemic, report, November 2021, accessed November 2021
  3. INNCO, New INNCO Dossier Raises Major Questions On Anti-vaping Stance, press release, 9 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  4. INNCO, Rally at Parliament Square: Everybody deserves harm reduction, website, 30 October 2021, accessed November 2021
  5. sCOPe, Alert: Livestream to scrutinize WHO Tobacco Conference, Scoop World News, press release, 8 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  6. FCTC, DECISION FCTC/COP9(3): Applications for the status of observer to the Conference of the Parties, 9 November 2021
  7. Knowledge-Action-Change, Fighting the Last War: The WHO and International Tobacco Control, website, undated, accessed November 2021
  8. GSTHR, Ahead of major global meeting on tackling smoking, experts set to challenge WHO position on safer nicotine, October 2021, accessed October 2021
  9. Pakistan Alliance for Nicotine and Tobacco Harm Reduction, Job Announcement, PANTHR website, undated, archived 08 May 2020, accessed September 2020
  10. Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Awarded grants, accessed November 2021
  11. The Economics of Curbing Smoking in Turkey, The Economics of Curbing Smoking in Turkey: A Scoping Review, August 2020, accessed November 2021
  12. Portal GAZ, Politicos e representantes do setor de tabaco pedem apoio ao governo na COP 9, August 2021, accessed November 2021
  13. abMaíra Mathias, Lobby do fumo ataca colegiado-chave da política antitabaco, O Joio e o trigo portal, September 2021, accessed November 2021
  14. abACT Saude, Manifesto pela imediata reconstituição formal da Comissão Nacional para Implementação da Convenção-Quadro para Controle do Tabaco pelo Governo Federal Brasileiro, September 2021, accessed November 2021
  15. abAll Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, Inquiry into the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of the Parties 9: A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping Inquiry (COP9)March 2021, accessed April 2021
  16. R. Alebshehy, M. Zatoński M, S. Dance S, L. Laurence, P. Chamberlain A.B. Gilmore,  2021 UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index. Tobacco Control Research Group, University of Bath. November 2021
  17. STOP, 5 Key Takeaways from COP9, November 2021, accessed December 2021
  18. PH commits to science in solving smoking problem, Manila Bulletin, November 2021, accessed December 2021
  19. Industria tabacalera está entorpeciendo reunión global para el control de tabaco, El Espectador, November 2021, accessed December 2021
  20. New report exposes Zimbabwe as biggest pawn of Big Tobacco, Vanguard, November 2021, accessed December 2021
  21. G. Quan, Reflections on the ‘Other COP’ – Progress on Tobacco Control Despite COVID and Industry Attacks, Health Policy Watch, November 2021, accessed December 2021
  22. Gilmore, Anna B et al. “Exposing and addressing tobacco industry conduct in low-income and middle-income countries”, Lancet (London, England) vol. 385,9972 (2015): 1029-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60312-9
  23. Matthes, B. K et al, “Needs of LMIC-based tobacco control advocates to counter tobacco industry policy interference: insights from semi-structured interviews”, BMJ open, 10(11), e044710. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044710
  24. C.Gardner, (@ChaunceyGardner)´Protest@MikeBloomberg’s capture of @WHO tobacco control efforts. Bloomberg Corp HQ. Security and police were getting nervous at this point. And this was before the giant “digi-van” arrived. @INNCO´, tweet, 9 November 2021, 11.28 am
  25. World Vapers´ Alliance (@vapers_alliance) ´The #VapeBus is in #Geneva WVA director @LandlMichael is bringing the voices of #vapers to @WHO, @UNGeneva and global #policymakers who are deciding the future of #vaping everywhere! @MisiaSr thank you for the warm welcome´, tweet, 9 November 2021, 4:57 am
  26. A Tale of Two COPs, Tobacco Reporter, November 2021, accessed December 2021
  27. Mark Oates We Vape Director Chats To Ecigclick, Ecigclick, November 2021, accessed December 2021
  28. Tobacco harm reduction policy in spotlight, Korean Herald, November 2021, accessed December 2021
  29. sCOPe, Alert: Livestream To Scrutinize WHO Tobacco Conference, November 2021, accessed December 2021
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