WHO FCTC’s CoP7 in New Delhi, India: A review across social media

WHO FCTC’s CoP7 in New Delhi, India: A review across social media

India is hosting the Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) to World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) for the first time, this week. Social media give the "color of the negotiations " until an official communicate is released.

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The Director-General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, opened the conference on Monday, stressing the growing success of the Convention, and stating that, “In a world full of so many new and old threats, we turn to tobacco control as unquestionably our biggest, surest, and best opportunity to save millions of lives.

Basically, it is the place where parties, the delegations of countries, are seeking advices to review the implementation of the WHO FCTC Convention and to take decisions necessary to promote effective implementation of tobacco control policies. The Parties will specifically discuss whether similar policy measures recommended to reduce tobacco use should be applied to e-cigarettes.

This year, CoP7 is being attended by 136 Parties and representatives of four States non-Parties. More than 1,300 participants are present and include staff from WHO and UNDP, representatives from four intergovernmental and 13 nongovernmental organizations, accredited as observers. Among observers, the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) merging about 500 NGOs involved in tobacco control from 100 countries is also present.

Key recommendations FCA gave regarding e-cigarettes for this meeting are “not to engage in lengthy debate on this topic” and “to request the WHO to prepare an expert report for COP8 with an update on scientific evidence and on national regulatory developments”.

Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of the Convention Secretariat, asked for Parties to consider Article 5.3 dealing with tobacco industry interference. Parties have been requested by the Bureau to exclude from their delegations representatives of partially or wholly state-owned tobacco companies.

“We do not question the right of sovereign states to choose national representatives but we must be reminded that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interests between the tobacco industry and public health policy…The tobacco industry takes a very keen interest in COP meetings and makes every effort to insinuate itself into delegations and proceedings. If anyone doubts the importance of what we do here, always remember the industry’s malevolent presence and the strong need for transparency. ”Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva,Convention Secretariat

Day 1- “Malign forces close at hand” to influence delegates

As pointed out by the authorities of the event, the fear of influence attempts by the tobacco lobby, journalist and the general public is underway.

Shortly after the opening session, November 7, all parties voted to bar access to the conference to media and public. An action that has been deemed “undemocratic” by the American political commentator and Daily Caller journalist Drew Johnson who was “invited” by the security of the event to leave the building.

In the meantime, Indian vapers organize for a right to choose


Day 2- Animated debates

Clive Bates notices on the provisional list of participants, parties and observers that the 23 persons represent the US association Tobacco Free Kids. An association that he recalls recommends cold turkey as a unique mean to quit smoking.

More importantly, Prof Robert West (University College London) deplores WHO lost contact with science while commenting on Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva’s declaration after the WHO remleased its report.

“So far there is a clear understanding that e-cigarettes should be regulated. They should not be promoted widely – there should be restrictions and regulations.

While I don’t think COP will close the door [to e-cigarettes], I don’t think COP will open the door to them at this time,” Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva

Professor West is co-director of the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Addiction. He is co-author of the English National Smoking Cessation Guidelines that provided the blueprint for the UK-wide network of stop-smoking services that are now an established part of the UK National Health Service and that widely promotes e-cigarettes.

Many countries have put in place severe restrictions on the sale and use of e-cigarettes and even banned e-cigarettes entirely, including Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the Seychelles.

Rumors are spreading that Thailand, with strong interests in tobacco business with its Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (TTM) that “plays an important role in the economic system of Thailand“, may be in the front line to support a ban on e-cigarette. Behind Thailand, Nigeria, Kenya and India would also be pushing for this global ban on vaping. Thailand .

Harm reduction

“Harm reduction” at the center of the tobacco control debate. Some Parties seem to have forgotten that this notion was also part of the text.

In a recent update on his blog, Clive Bates denounces the brittle ground the CoP7 is sitting on with their scientific assessment and policy options report on electronic cigarettes that is supposed to be a basis for discussions on e-cigarettes during the event.

A vigorous (peer-reviewed) critique was made about WHO’s writings by independent experts (UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies) John Britton, Ann McNeill, Linda Bauld and Ilze Bogdanovica pointing out several flaws: “In our view, the WHO report succeeds in identifying a range of areas of uncertainty over the potential benefits and risks of ENDS to effective tobacco control policy. However, by doing so from a position of emphasis on the risks and disadvantages of these products which disregards their potential to reduce consumption of smoked tobacco, the report fails to deliver the equipoise required for dispassionate formulation of public health policy. The report also contains factual errors and misinterpretations of evidence available in the public domain; and refers at its outset to four reports, including two systematic reviews, commissioned by the WHO but as yet unpublished and hence unavailable for scrutiny.


Day 3- Rumors of a global ban on vaping

 

 


Day 4- Secret meeting and Press conference

Prohibiting e-cigarette, may harm millions of people globally put forward tobacco harm reduction experts who allude to a rumour in social media that delegations of a few countries with were driving an agenda to prohibit e-cigarette.

.@FCTCofficial Secretariat withholding documents from #COP7FCTC delegates who oppose ENDS ban: censorship and exclusion with deadly potent

“Such a course of action would be a huge mistake and do untold harm to millions of smokers. We hope these rumours are untrue and do not reflect the current climate and the real intentions of WHO COP7 delegates”  reports the news agency PTI tobacco harm-reduction advisors during the press conference.

Clive Bates ask European and British health authorities not to adhere WHO’s view of vaping that is based on non-scientific proofs. Specifically, they are asked to block any decision that would validate the possibility for a Party to ban vaping.