“The highest number of Parties ever have been represented at this week’s proceedings. This is truly a major achievement given the nature of our virtual meetings and the restrictions made necessary by the COVID 19 pandemic. Over the years we have seen an increasing number of Parties attending the COP. But this week we have welcomed 161 Parties – a wonderful new record.”
Maybe it would have been more important to have boosted the number of members from civil society – end consumers – being able to participate as observers, but having a lot of politicians, civil servants, and Bloomberg shills logging on to fractured broadcasts is bound to be something historians will view with positivity.
“This large number of participating Parties provides ample evidence of the global commitment to the WHO FCTC and demonstrates, if there were any doubt, our conviction of the ever-growing effectiveness of the treaty. It also indicates the strength of the Convention and reaffirms that Parties are united in implementing public health policies aimed at ending the tobacco epidemic.”
Some may point out the attendance represents the interests of Parties in obtaining more slices of the Bloomberg cash pie.
Baghaei Hamaneh says that during the Covid-19 pandemic, “countries face a heavier, more sustained toll as a result of the tobacco epidemic.”
He continues by stating that countries face a challenge to dealing with the impact of Covid – and implementing tobacco policies – because of tobacco industry interference, “which acts as a barrier to effective implementation of the WHO FCTC, the declaration emphasises the inherent and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests.”
He continues: “It stresses the need to protect public health policy from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry, and to integrate tobacco control measures in our pandemic recovery efforts.”
What Baghaei Hamaneh and others refuse to accept is that vaping is not synonymous with the tobacco industry.
Baghaei Hamaneh also celebrated the announcement of a new revenue stream: “This creates a third strand of financial support for implementation of the WHO FCTC. Assessed Contributions and Extra-Budgetary funds will continue, indeed there has been expression by Parties that there is an increased effort to make regular contributions. However, now a major step has been taken towards the launch of the investment fund. This multi-million-dollar plan is aimed at strengthening tobacco control efforts and providing much-needed financial support for the continued implementation of the Convention. It will be managed in association with the World Bank and with a dedicated oversight committee comprised of Parties and civil society organization observers to the COP, with the goal of strengthening the support for Parties’ tobacco control measures.”
In looking forward to the COP10 jolly in Panama in 2023, he added: “I send us all back to our roles in the tobacco control community, having rekindled our friendships, certain that we have a greater sense of our mission, and with the knowledge that the Convention continues to be our touchstone as we press forward with its implementation.”