Monday, 14 November 2016

COP7 - what happened?

The World Health Organisation's snappily tilted Framework Convention on Tobacco Control's Conference of the Parties 7 drew to a close on Friday. So what actually happened? You can read reports from people who went to the effort of trying to get in, like Dick Puddlecote, but even according to the official FCTC bulletin not much has changed.

The two big topics were always going to be plain packaging and e-cigarettes. The WHO is in favour of the former (despite the evidence) and broadly against the latter (also despite the evidence). They set out a (junk science) position paper in September which was very similar to their previous position. For all the expense and negative publicity of COP7, the meetings ended with the position being basically the same. They encourage countries to ban them, but if they don't get a ban they demand hyper-regulation.

According to the official bulletin...

Oof – that was quite a week. COP sessions are always intense and tiring, with moments when it seems like Parties will never be able to reach consensus.

But this time really was different, with agreement unusually difficult to find on a number of issues.

While we hope there will be a few last-minute miracles today on some agenda items, it is worth thinking about why the frustration level was higher than usual.

According to the bulletin, agreement was harder to find because ('without wishing to sound paranoid') the tobacco industry somehow managed to slow down discussions. Since everybody except invited delegates and sympathetic NGOs were kicked out of the conference on the first day, this does indeed sound paranoid. More likely is that different countries have taken different approaches to e-cigarettes, with some - including the UK - bothering to look at the evidence.

The bulletin doesn't even mention e-cigarettes. From what I've heard, there was an attempt to get a resolution supporting total prohibition but this was opposed by enough delegates to get the WHO to fall back on its previous position.

The bulletin does, however, find room to mention what's really important to these guys...

Speaking of money: early in the week, the United Kingdom announced a significant investment of development funds into FCTC implementation. One can only hope this decision will attract imitators from other countries; it is an early tangible sign that the inclusion of the FCTC in the Sustainable Development Goals will have real-world effects.

That's £15 million from unwitting British taxpayers going into the coffers of this exceptionally secretive, unaccountable and morally corrupt organisation. Let's hope someone from the Department of Health - Andrew Black, for example - is hauled up by a minister to explain this largesse. It's bad enough that we have to fund ASH, Healthy Futures, the Health Equality Group etc. without giving more money to this mob.

The WHO gave Andrew Black, Deborah Arnott and their tax-sponging mates a special award for this 'donation'. How lovely for them.


My thanks to a reader for pointing out that the bulletin is from the Framework Convention Alliance rather than the WHO themselves. You can read what the WHO have to say here, but it's not much. 

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