Tobacco Asia

Volume 18, Number 4

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Page 21 of 83

22 tobaccoasia Staff Report The World Health Organization's (WHO) Frame- work Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) hosts the Conference of Parties (COP), and this year is the sixth bi-annual installment, known as COP6. COP reviews the implementation of FCTC and takes decisions and actions to promote its implementation. The conference will be held in November in the welcoming arms of host city Moscow, Rus- sia, which has seen a rash of tough anti-tobacco legislation passed in preparation for this meeting, including: total point-of-sale visibility bans; total advertising blackouts; and almost total public in- door smoking bans. The many delegates at COP try to balance the calls for bans of literally everything from the ra- bid anti-tobacco brigades with other more level- headed delegates who keep in mind the realities of implementation by the scores of signatory coun- tries across the globe. Will COP6 overreach into areas impossible for members to comply with, and therefore risk becoming irrelevant, or will they instead come up with more modest, workable proposals? That is always the question the tobacco industry likes to have answered during COP season. There are currently 168 signatory countries to FCTC with another 8 countries – Argentina, Cuba, El Salvador, Haiti, Morocco, Mozambique, Swit- zerland, and the US – signing, but not ratifying it. Taxation and duty free allowances At COP5, held in Seoul, South Korea in Novem- ber 2012, delegates made policy recommendations to raise taxes on tobacco products and require that cigarettes be banned from duty free sales. Yet, even they now understand what the tobacco in- dustry has been saying all along – that raising taxes may have unintended consequences in promoting illegal trade when cigarette prices are much higher than they can be obtained from smuggled sourc- es. FCTC therefore recommended, "gradual and predictable increases in excise that address public health concerns, boost tax revenues, and do not add to the illegal tobacco trade." At COP6, they should further define such tax increase policies. What to Expect from COP6 The "All Things Anti-Tobacco" Meeting Every two years, the inter-governmental, state-of-the-art, "all things anti-tobacco" conclave known as the FCTC's Conference of Parties meets to network and help guide global anti-tobacco efforts. This year – coming on the tenth anniversary of the founding of FCTC – the conference will be held in November in chilly Moscow. What frigid messages will they issue to the tobacco industry this year? If only plain packaging would look so clean. However it needs to be decorated with the local graphic/gory warning. In the future, possibly only the coded banned word "CIG***TTES" will be allowed to join warning labels.

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