On 11 July, 2013, Fiji officially signed the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. The Protocol, adopted by the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in November, was opened for signature by the Parties in a ceremony at WHO Headquarters in January 2013. The new international treaty is aimed at combating illegal trade in tobacco products through control of the supply chain and international cooperation. As a key measure, Parties commit to establishing a global tracking and tracing system to reduce and eventually eradicate illicit trade.
Global problem of Illicit trade in tobacco products
Illicit trade in tobacco products is a global problem. It increases the accessibility and affordability of tobacco products thus undermining tobacco control policies and severely burdening health systems. In addition, illicit trade leads to significant revenue losses for governments. The elimination of all forms of illicit trade including smuggling and illegal manufacturing is therefore an essential component of tobacco control.
“The protocol gives the world a unique legal instrument for countering and eventually eliminating a sophisticated international criminal activity that costs a lot, especially for health,” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan on the occasion of the signing ceremony.
Protocol to help protect against health risks of tobacco
The new Protocol will help to protect people across the globe from the health risks of tobacco. The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. It kills nearly six million people a year. Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco and this accounts for one in 10 adult deaths.
“The adoption of the Protocol is the result of close cooperation between multiple sectors of government”, said Dr Haik Nikogosian, Head of the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC. “It also shows how a unified stand on a public health subject can benefit important government objectives on health and beyond, such as protecting revenues and countering criminal activities.”