In a now-familiar routine, the World Health Organisation’s leading tobacco control conference voted to expel the public and keep its activities a secret. Meanwhile Chicago’s controversial mayor has pushed through a surprise increase in the city’s vape tax, already the highest in the USA. In other US news, academics claim battery explosions are far more common than previously reported, and the FDA continues its attacks on JUUL Labs.
COP 8, like the last two COPs, opened with a motion to throw the public and media out of the conference venue; this was supported by a majority of delegates, with only Canada opposing the motion. Canada’s delegation to COP 7 in Delhi was seriously embarrassed when a Canadian journalist asked one of her country’s delegates to explain the ban on media coverage. Delegates also voted to throw out a previous pledge to live-stream the proceedings; Canada was again the only dissenter, suggesting a three-minute delay instead.
The WHO claims the secrecy is essential to prevent the tobacco industry from influencing what happens at COP. However, they can’t explain how industry could influence anything from a seat in the public or press areas – or why accredited harm reduction groups like INNCO had their access abruptly withdrawn.