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Health and transparency NGOs demand implementation of FCTC art. 5.3

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Brussels - European public health and transparency organisations send a letter to Commission President Barroso asking for the consistent implementation of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

On 17 January, a group of European public health and transparency organisations sent a letter to Commission President Barroso to ask for a consistent implementation of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on the protection of public health from the vested interests of the tobacco industry.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (‘the FCTC’)[1] was developed in response to the globalisation of the tobacco industry and tobacco use and the ensuing harms. It sets out the necessary principles, obligations and tobacco control measures that are required in order to combat the global tobacco epidemic. Article 5.3 of the FCTC requires all Parties, when setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, to:“. . . act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law”.

This mandate has been expanded further in the FCTC Conference of the Parties’ Guidelines for Implementation of Article 5.3.[2] These emphasise through guiding principles and recommendations that Parties should implement measures to prevent interference by the tobacco industry in all branches of government that may have an interest in, or the capacity to affect, public health policies with respect to tobacco control. These measures are necessary due to the behaviour of the tobacco industry aimed at undermining tobacco control efforts – in many cases successfully – and the fact that, unlike other consumer products, there are no safe ways of using tobacco products. This has led governments and international agencies most recently reaffirmed at the United Nation General Assembly in 2011,[3] to conclude that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests.[4]

The letter calls on Commission President to ensure that the following actions are taken across all Commission services:

  • Avoiding the perception of partnership with the tobacco industry
  • Implementing a code of conduct on relations with the tobacco industry
  • Ensuring registration and disclosure of tobacco industry lobbyists (Transparency Register)
  • More details on why these steps are important can be found in the full text of the letter as well as in SFP's Briefing on Article 5.3 of the FCTC.

[1] See: World Health Organization. 2003. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Geneva: World Health Organization. Available at: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2003/9241591013.pdf, accessed 16 February 2012

[2] See: FCTC Conference of the Parties. 2008. Guidelines for Implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on the protection of public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. Available at: http://www.who.int/fctc/protocol/guidelines/adopted/article_5_3/en/index..., accessed 16 February 2012.

[3] http://www.who.int/nmh/events/un_ncd_summit2011/political_declaration_en...

[4] Ibid. See Principle 1, p2.

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