COP 10: How Tobacco Control Strategies to Impact Lives Permanently

COP 10 was originally slated for November 2023, but was postponed owing to political upheaval and violence. In reality, the FCTC Parties have not met in person since COP 8 in 2018. 
COP 10: How Tobacco Control Strategies to Impact Lives Permanently
Section Link to Section
Bloomberg Bloomberg, Tobacco-Free Kids and Dirty Ashtray awards
“Tobacco industry interference” “Tobacco industry interference” means consumers are shut out
Inside the House The call is coming from inside the house!
COP-Curious Resources for the COP-curious

 

The member states of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) are hosting their 10th biannual conference in Panama City, Panama, which began this week and will last from February 5 to 10. The FCTC is an international treaty, under sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the member nations are designated “Parties' ' to the treaty. The FCTC meeting this week is the 10th Conference of the Parties—or COP 10.

COP 10 was originally slated for November 2023, but was postponed owing to political upheaval and violence. In reality, the FCTC Parties have not met in person since COP 8 in 2018. Because to COVID, COP 9 was postponed until 2021, and then held virtually. Delegates then decided to postpone discussions and decisions on many hot-button issues, including vaping and "novel" nicotine products, until COP 10.

Policy decisions made by COP participants are binding on member nations, and nearly all of the world's governments—1183 to be exact—are Parties to the FCTC. The Parties undertake to adapt their national laws and regulations to decisions made by the whole FCTC, which implies that the COP meetings define tobacco and nicotine policy for the majority of the globe.

At COP 10, the FCTC Parties will make decisions on a number of significant issues that may impact persons who vape and use other non-combustible nicotine products. The FCTC Secretariat (leadership group) has backed the following proposals:

  • Banning vaping flavors
  • Banning open-system (refillable) products
  • Banning disposable vapes
  • Banning nicotine salt e-liquid
  • Redefining the term “smoke” to include smoke-free vapor
  • Regulating and taxing all nicotine products as harshly as cigarettes

The WHO and its affiliates (including the FCTC leadership) have been staunchly opposed to vaping and all consumer nicotine products from its inception, and they aren't stopping now. Without resistance from key FCTC Parties such as the United Kingdom, at least some of the ideas listed above are likely to be accepted.

Bloomberg, Tobacco-Free Kids and Dirty Ashtray awards

The FCTC does not include the United States, Argentina, Cuba, Indonesia, Switzerland, or a small number of African nations. However, US interests have disproportionate influence over the FCTC's course.

Aside from the official US delegation (which has no voting rights), many of the non-governmental organizations granted "observer" status are American, as are their biggest funders, including billionaire ex-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg (who also funds the WHO's tobacco control operations) and Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates.

COP 10 is teeming with "observers" from Bloomberg-funded NGOs advocating for vaping restrictions and bans. These organizations, such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Vital Strategies, establish expectations for tobacco control policy direction by educating the prohibitionist FCTC Secretariat (leadership group), providing background materials, and, in certain cases, drafting policy recommendations that COP 10 delegates will vote on.

The Global Alliance for Tobacco Control (GATC), an umbrella organization that represents established tobacco control groups, serves as the organizational force and Greek chorus for tobacco control interests at COP meetings. The GATC (formerly known as the Framework Convention Alliance) makes policy recommendations on proposed agenda items and then praises or criticizes delegates for supporting or opposing the GATC's preferred positions, which coincide with the positions of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the WHO, and Tobacco-Free Kids.

The GATC issues a daily COP bulletin, which occasionally includes a "Dirty Ashtray award" that highlights what the GATC considers inappropriate acts by delegates. Guatemala, for example, received the Dirty Ashtray on Wednesday for "setting a bad example by systematically time wasting and trying to reopen closed agenda items."

"Other parties should take note," they cautioned. Why should Guatemalan delegates care what a group of private "observers" think? Because the WHO and private donors will carefully study the GATC delegates' reports before accepting or refusing money for future initiatives that bring jobs and status. Countries and delegates may face penalties for not "going along to get along" with the Bloomberg-controlled COP police.

Actual observers from the general public are barred, and delegates ritualistically vote on the first day of proceedings to keep the press out—though select Bloomberg Philanthropies-approved (and financed) journalists are granted preferential admission to the event. FCTC COPs have all the characteristics of a secret society, if not a full-fledged cult.

“Tobacco industry interference” means consumers are shut out

Tobacco control advocates and FCTC leaders are obsessed with what they refer to as "tobacco industry interference." They appear to assume that COP participants who leave the conference location would be apprehended by tobacco industry operatives and corrupted. The worry reveals the tobacco control careerists' disrespect for the delegates.

Their paranoia seems real—and often comical.

"Tobacco industry operatives are crawling all over Panama City this week," stated Vital Strategies' Jorge Alday on Twitter. "Their goal is to derail #COP10 where governments will meet to advance a global treaty that would reduce smoking."

In an editorial in the Day 1 GATC bulletin, former Tobacco Control editor Ruth Malone claimed that "the single biggest obstacle to effective full implementation of the FCTC is tobacco industry interference, including at COPs." She went on to give examples, accusing the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO), British harm reduction advocates Knowledge•Action•Change, and INTERPOL (yes, the international police agency) of being tobacco industry moles who were only denied access to previous COPs due to the vigilance of tobacco control purists.

Those anecdotes would be humorous if the FCTC's tobaccophobia did not prevent actual nicotine consumer advocates from participating in the meetings. Vaping advocacy groups are barred from attending any FCTC meetings, including COP 10.

However, despite FCTC assertions to the contrary, tobacco firms are represented at COP 10.

The call is coming from inside the house!

The FCTC claims to eliminate any tobacco industry representation, although this is incorrect. In truth, a number of member countries own tobacco corporations, including the world's largest tobacco company.

While most unpaid THR activists, such as the nicotine consumer organizations represented by INNCO, are routinely accused of being tobacco infiltrators, the Chinese COP 10 delegation represents not only the country's tobacco regulators but also its tobacco business. The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA) and the China National Tobacco Corporation—the world's largest cigarette manufacturer—are managed from the same building by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which has delegations in Panama this week.

Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Lebanon, Malawi, Moldova, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, and Vietnam are among the other FCTC Parties that possess or have a stake in tobacco industries. Most of these nations have prohibited or severely restricted access to low-risk nicotine products such as vapes, not to safeguard citizens' health, but to protect national tobacco interests and tax income.

"The effect," writes Clive Bates, "is to create a bubble, an echo chamber of uncritical applause and a lack of diversity and experience in and around the COP meetings, supposedly done to prevent 'tobacco industry interference' while ignoring the presence of tobacco industry interests on several delegations. Small consumer organisations are completely ignored, despite being the most immediately affected and vulnerable stakeholder group."

Resources for the COP-curious

It is unlikely that you will be able to watch the actual discussions and deliberations, but you may follow COP 10 procedures as they occur. Here are a few resources:

COPWATCH – The COPWATCH website, sponsored by vaping & tobacco harm reduction (THR) supporters, has done an excellent job of tracking the FCTC and providing updates throughout the day, clarifying any news that emerges from the COP 10 event. They also include relevant links to news items and other resources.

GOOD COP (Conference of the People) live stream – The Taxpayers Protection Alliance is airing live COP 10-related talks from Panama on its YouTube channel. Lindsey Stroud and Martin Cullip, longtime THR proponents (and TPA workers), have hosted a range of intriguing speakers on their regular broadcasts, as have other TPA officials. (Previous debates may also be seen.)

Official FCTC COP 10 streaming – This year, the FCTC enabled part of the sessions to be streamed live on the official website (bottom of the page). Don't anticipate detailed discussions, although the leadership has permitted some floor statements from delegates to be webcast.

Global Alliance for Tobacco Control (GATC) daily bulletins – This bulletin does not necessarily explain much of what happened during the event, but it does provide an insight into the Bloomberg-funded tobacco control establishment's perspective on the events.

Twitter/X – In addition to posts from the FCTC and activist "observers" on the ground in Panama, there is a lot of COP 10 conversation among vaping and THR proponents. #COP10FCTC is the official COP 10 hashtag.

The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GCTHR) COP 10 briefing paper – Knowledge•Action•Change, a British harm-reduction advocacy group, delves deeply into the COP 10 agenda. GSTHR's previous FCTC explanation is also worth reading.

Commentary on the Annotated COP 10 Agenda (Clive Bates) – This is an outstanding paper in which Bates comments on the official COP 10 agenda each by line, offering advice and criticism while also providing several useful connections.

men - 1 About Author
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Kevin S. is an experienced vape writer and collector of VaporBoss. I have been writing about disposables, e-liquids, and vape coils for half a decade now. With a commitment to accuracy and clarity, I guide readers through the maze of information, providing valuable insights for both beginners and experienced vapers. My writing not only demystifies the technical jargon, but also delves into the cultural nuances, trends, and regulations that shape the ever-evolving vaping community.

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