Switzerland criticised for tobacco control treaty stance

In 2015, 24% of Swiss people over the age of 15 were smokers Keystone

The fact that Switzerland has yet to have ratified the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and is hosting its conference is shameful, a top WHO official has declared. 

This content was published on September 21, 2018 - 16:22
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“I think this is more of a shame than a problem that Switzerland is not party to the treaty, as this is all about protecting the public health of the population,” the head of the FCTC Secretariat, Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, told reporters at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva on Friday.

State representatives, experts and other officials are set to gather in Geneva from October 1 for two important global tobacco treaty conferences to discuss further measures to reduce smoking globally and to eliminate the illegal trade in tobacco products. 

Switzerland signed the FCTC in 2004 but has not ratified it, partly due to recent changes to a draft law on tobacco productsExternal link and specific issues related to advertising and sponsorship. 

But it is not alone. Switzerland is one of 13 other countries that have not ratified the FCTC; the others are mainly tobacco-growing states, such as the United States, Argentina, Malawi and Cuba. Switzerland, a small-scale tobacco producer, is home to the headquarters of Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, which the WHO has said have a “very strong” impact on Swiss policy. 

Da Costa e Silva said there was not sufficient political will in Switzerland to apply all measures in the treaty in the face of the tobacco industry present in the country. 

Conference sessions

Around 180 states are set to attend the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the WHO FCTCExternal link (October 1-6), followed by the first session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP1) to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco ProductsExternal link (October 8-10). 

The focus of the first conference will be on a medium-term strategic framework and priorities, cross-border advertising, the environmental impact of tobacco use and cultivation, as well as global progress on reducing smoking worldwide. 

It is estimated that 10% of cigarettes and other tobacco products are traded illegally. Tax revenue losses amount to $30 billion (CHF29.9 billion) a year. The second conference will discuss, among other issues, global, regional and national systems to track tobacco products from the production site to the initial sales site, which should be launched by 2023. 

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