In welcoming words, the Indian health ministry said: “India reiterates its commitment to the full implementation of WHO FCTC. Tobacco drains the economy of nearly $16 billion a year.”
India may be committing itself to the FCTC, unsurprisingly given the level of corruption behind its approach to vaping, but Pakistan certainly didn’t. Pakistan's junior minister of health said: “It's a very important meeting on tobacco, but our visit doesn't appear feasible due to ongoing tensions (between the two countries).”
It followed India launching missiles across their neighbour’s borders. The minister added: “One or two officials of the health ministry had applied for visa to attend the conference, but I think they are facing issues in getting it.”
WHO’s shame didn’t end there: on the 7th of November, in a shocking move, the delegates carried out a vote to ban journalists from being able to further attend. The move will only lend further weight to the allegations that the entire process is corrupt. Various journalists described the vote as shocking and outrageous, a clear insult to the freedom of the press.
The move came about at the end of the opening day, after a delegate from Thailand moved that a vote be taken to exclude all journalists, so they could “have discussions in private”. Thailand’s proposal was supported by all the other attending nations (including the UK).
One journalist is quoted as saying: “I, for one, was shocked. I’ve covered a lot of conventions and this was totally unprecedented for me.”
Another said: “Journalists are responsible for informing the public about the decisions such large international bureaucracies make. How can this be done if the media is kicked out the second the real issues are discussed? Every citizen should be concerned about what the WHO is up to.
This move has a precedent; the public was removed on day 1 and journalists were physically thrown out on day 2 of the 2014 conference. Jeff Stier wrote: “Shame on you, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, for holding your meetings in private. You ejected the public on the first day. On the second day, without a vote, you removed all the journalists - including those with credentials you granted them. Not only did you remove the public and the media, you removed any credibility the FCTC had.”
Maybe it’s because Panorama exposed the bribery and corruption hidden behind the voting process? Whatever the outcome, it’s unlikely to be positive for vaping.
The excellent Dick Puddlecote blog covers a lot of what happened in New Delhi over the last few days, to read more check it out here http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.co.uk/.