What Decisions Will Be Made At COP10 Affecting the Tobacco Industry

At the end of November, the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco(hnb heatsticks supplier) Control (WHO FCTC) will hold its 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10), where delegates will gather in Panama. The Conference of the Parties is the governing body of the FCTC and meets every two years to discuss the implementation of the FCTC, as well as tobacco and nicotine(heated tobacco manufacturer) policies. All states, whether they have ratified the treaty or not, can actively participate in the discussions. To date, 182 countries have signed and ratified the FCTC, making it one of the most widely adopted treaties in the United Nations. Six States have signed the Convention but have not ratified it; Nine States have not signed the Convention.


The COP conference had a profound impact

The COP is an influential global tobacco policy centre covering the entire tobacco value chain from 'seed to smoke'. Although the General Assembly guidelines are only recommendations, many have been incorporated into national legislation. This year's COP10 has also attracted close attention, with decisions made at the conference often having a profound impact on the nicotine business and its customers, affecting the future of tobacco manufacturers, suppliers and tobacco growers, as well as stakeholders such as smokers and e-cigarette users.

For example, major policies such as tobacco plain packaging and flavor restrictions were proposed at the COP before being adopted by major markets. The COP has also triggered a proliferation of industry science bans in recent years, a development that has been more detrimental to the cause of tobacco harm reduction than the event's established limits on industry participation.

In addition to its impact at the national level, COP conferences also have considerable institutional influence on a global scale. The FCTC was not proposed by the World Health Organization, but by the United Nations, which means it also has implications for trade, agriculture and finance. The COP's interactions with bodies such as the WHO, WTO, and World Bank spread its preference for prohibition over more advanced tobacco control ideas.

All of this means that the COP has huge implications for the future of the nicotine business.


THR was boycotted

If the WHO FCTC's initial resistance to advanced policies was due to concerns that THR was a tobacco industry ploy to maintain sales. But as more scientific evidence emerged, those concerns should have disappeared. There is also another factor in America's reaction to e-cigarettes. The United States has placed theoretical concerns about the use of e-cigarettes by children and even minors above the practical interests of adult smokers, who could benefit from the new products. Despite years of tobacco control efforts, more than 1 billion people continue to smoke worldwide. So how do you respond to these people's needs? Can we at least offer them alternatives to reduce the risk?

Billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg spent hundreds of millions of dollars to promote a boycott of THR in India, Pakistan and other countries, and the policy became the international norm, with enormous impact. In 2019, India, one of the world's largest tobacco markets, banned e-cigarettes, depriving about 100 million traditional smokers of access to safer alternatives.

The fact that Bloomberg's charitable foundation funds some of the best harm reduction programs outside of tobacco control, such as tackling thorny issues such as HIV and drug abuse, has been unwilling to extend the idea of harm reduction to tobacco control has caused divisions even within the organization.

For now, the COP discussions will not incorporate the best scientific evidence on tobacco and will continue to oppose THR. However, the cost of conducting such scientific research is high and often prohibitive. The tobacco industry spends a lot of money on this and conducts most of the scientific research related to new products, but the COP has historically rejected their research and the industry has been unable to communicate its findings to consumers.

This situation has led to a lot of misinterpretation, even among experts. For example, a recent survey commissioned by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World found that nearly 80 percent of doctors worldwide incorrectly believe that nicotine causes cancer, hampering efforts to help smokers quit with low-risk products.


What decisions are expected at this year's COP10?

So what can the industry expect from COP10? Experts who have been following the preparations expect the main topics to be the "tobacco Endgame" debate, which will include nicotine reductions, retailer quotas and generational tobacco purchase bans, in addition to likely discussions on content and emissions testing and measurement, filters and ventilation, pricing and tax increases.

In addition, COP delegates will consider recognizing tobacco control as fundamental to the right to health, attacking the industry for human rights violations and subjecting it to additional responsibilities. However, they will not discuss the negative effects of this practice on smokers and tobacco farmers, two highly stigmatized groups. Participants at the Panama Congress will also likely discuss new evidence for new products. The concern is that they could push for e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products to be regulated like combustible cigarettes, a development that critics say has no scientific basis and would set back the tobacco(heating device supplier) Harm reduction (THR) cause that many countries are advancing.

From the tobacco industry's perspective, the worst outcome of COP10 will be a series of prohibition-policy proposals, with delegates urging a ban on flavored and single-use e-cigarettes, for example, and tax structures that make low-risk products (RRP) impossible to implement. Without a tax commensurate with taste and risk, smokers will have less incentive to switch to alternatives, and if the government bans RRP altogether, the only product available will be the riskiest combustible cigarettes.

A better outcome would be for COP representatives to acknowledge that THR can mitigate the health effects of tobacco use and conduct an impartial review of the evidence relating to new products. For example, an independent committee could be convened to review the scientific evidence on RRP that has emerged since the last COP, including FDA's product authorizations and the UK government's and other science-based decisions.

Despite concerns about the outcome of COP10, people remain optimistic about the long-term prospects of THR, largely because scientific data support this position and tens of millions of smokers need low-harm alternatives.