Posted 2nd October 2018 by Dave Cross
The World Health Organisation’s FCTC COP8 has started in Switzerland and managed to evoke strong emotions at the very start. Following claims that it aimed to have transparent discussions, a vote was carried out and all of the journalists were removed; not so much something being rotten in Denmark as much as something stinks in Switzerland.

“Fifteen years after the World Health Assembly adopted the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC),” says the FCTC press office, “Parties to the treaty once again find themselves in Geneva faced with the opportunity to make history once again.”

If history is really being made then those involved in this process are surely on the wrong side of it.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, opened the conference, and hailed the tobacco control treaty as one of the greatest public health achievements of the last twenty years. “Since it came into force 13 years ago, the FCTC remains one of the world’s most powerful tools for promoting public health,” said Tedros. “Through the implementation of this treaty, we are making great progress, and we are saving lives.”

As delusional statements go, Tendros ignored the magnificent strides being made through evolving vape technology and focussed on the stalled approaches that are failing countries like Australia with its rising smoking rates.

As the conference began on Monday, a vote ensured that all members of the public and the collected press corps were ushered out of the doors.

“Don’t be concerned,” or words to that effect accompanied the expulsions, “we are intent on ensuring transparency.”

The FCTC COP8 is keen to be seen as acting transparently so they promised that discussions would be live-streamed.

Immediately following this, the proposal to video events met with stiff opposition. Laughably, opponents to transparency argued that videoing the proceedings would leave them open to influence and interference from the tobacco industry.

The African block of candidates were among those most vocally opposing openness. Out of all of the countries present, only Canada voted against blocking public access to the deliberations; it proposed that video streaming should take place but have a three-minute delay.

In the end, the nations agreed to only televise the opening and closing ceremonies, and the plenary sessions – a great gesture of transparency previously unseen in any political arena.

Later on in the day, an invitation appeared: an evening reception co-hosted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK).

Danish journalist Klaus K: “It should always be remembered that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is funded & owned by Big Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”

Pharma-funded CTFK has been accorded ‘observer status’, and allowed to remain within the conference. INNCO, a body of groups pushing for a sensible approach to nicotine use (and not funded by tobacco or the pharmaceutical industries) has been blocked from attending.

Transparency? Well, it’s transparent how corrupt this whole process is.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker