From: JTI | News and Views
The WHO’s Conference of Parties (COP) to the FCTC has lost sight of its purpose. In recent years, secrecy and hidden agendas have corrupted this decision-making process.
The FCTC was adopted in 2003 with the aim to reduce tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke. Over the years, its focus has broadened to include topics that go way beyond its original intent. In parallel, a culture of secrecy and hidden agendas has grown during the COP sessions, not allowing for views which differ from the majority voices. At recent COPs, issues such as taxation, international trade, illegal trade, and even tobacco growing have been debated during proceedings where Parties mainly consisted of representatives of Ministries of Health. However, those who have expertise on such matters were denied an observer status from the discussions under the pretext that they had ties with the tobacco industry. At COP7, held in India in 2016, farmers from tobacco growing countries protested their exclusion from the meeting. The response was to bus them away from the venue. Any reasonable process would have involved the tobacco growers whose livelihoods depend on the crop being discussed in COP proceedings. Excluding them based on their relationship with tobacco companies is absurd. This is just one example of how utopic, narrow-minded viewpoints are being cheered by COP, while the expertise and legitimate concerns of all other stakeholders are being silenced.
So, what does the FCTC COP want to hide?