Stopping the Smugglers: Proposals for an Additional Protocol to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Article excerpt

[The members of the World Health Organization are currently engaging in extensive negotiations to find a way of controlling the global `tobacco epidemic'. Central to the WHO's tobacco control efforts is a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Tobacco smuggling is a major contributor to the global epidemic. This article examines the necessity of a proposed protocol on the suppression of smuggling to the Framework Convention and suggests essential elements for a model protocol.]


I   Introduction                                                   33
II  Smuggling and the Global Epidemic                              35
III The Draft Framework Convention                                 42
IV  A Proposed Protocol on Smuggling                               45
      A Preamble                                                   47
      B Definitions                                                47
          1 Tobacco Products                                       47
          2 Illicit Manufacturing                                  47
          3 Illicit Trafficking                                    48
      C Criminalisation                                            48
      D Seizure, Confiscation and Disposal                         48
      E Marking of Tobacco Products                                48
      F Requirements for the Authorisation of International Trade  49
      G Commercial Documents and Record Keeping                    49
      H Information                                                50
      I Law Enforcement Cooperation                                50
      J Training and Technical Assistance and Public Education     50

V     Conclusion                                                   51


The members of the World Health Organization (`WHO') are currently engaging in extensive negotiations to find a way of controlling the `tobacco epidemic' facing the globe. (1) Central to the WHO's efforts is a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (`Draft Framework Convention'). (2) Work began on the Draft Framework Convention in May 1999 and it is hoped that a final draft will be agreed to in 2002. The initial resolution calling for work to begin on the Draft Framework Convention was unanimously backed by the 191 states of the World Health Assembly, with 50 nations pledging financial and political support for the Convention at the meeting. (3) The WHO simultaneously engaged in a programme of participatory consultation through a series of technical conferences. (4) The Assembly transferred the development of the Draft Framework Convention to an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, which is currently engaged in full-scale formal diplomatic negotiation. (5)

The need for the Draft Framework Convention is clearly explained in the preamble to the empowering resolution:

   Being deeply concerned by the escalation of smoking and other forms of
   tobacco use world-wide, which resulted in the loss of at least 3.5 million
   human lives in 1998 and is expected to cause at least 10 million deaths a
   year by 2030 if the pandemic is not controlled, with 70% of these deaths
   occurring in developing countries[.] (6)

While the precise health impact of smoking continues to be debated, many countries, especially those `producer' states in the western world where tobacco companies are usually based and where most cigarette manufacturing occurs, consider smoking a potentially harmful activity. (7) The potential harm caused by smoking is considered serious enough to justify a wide range of legal measures to suppress tobacco use and thus restrict the adverse impact of tobacco use on health. (8) The extensive legal measures which have been taken include increased taxation and excise duties, imposition of age bans on the purchase of tobacco products, strict advertising limitations, greater disclosure of product ingredients and the creation of non-smoking areas. …


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