New International Standards for Tobacco Sales

New International Standards for Tobacco Sales

New International Standards for Tobacco Sales


On November 12, 2012, the World Health Organization announced new measures to combat illegal trading of tobacco products throughout the world.  Two delegates and over 140 different parties attended the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).  The measures, called The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, were embraced by countries that will use global tracking techniques, such as international cooperation and supply chain maintenance, to combat illegal transaction of tobacco. 

Illegal trading of tobacco is a global problem, and a domestic problem. 

For one, the illegal selling of tobacco slashes international and domestic health objectives by reducing tax revenue generated by legal sales.  A large percentage of the tax revenue generated from tobacco sales goes toward placing stricter control on tobacco sales (such as advertising policies and warnings). 

Secondly, most of the revenue generated from illegal tobacco sales is used to fund criminal activity and/or criminal organizations.  Cigarette smuggling is a huge problem in the United States, and criminals will usually buy or steal cheaper cigarettes in one state and sell the cigarettes in states with higher tax rates on cigarettes.  The same problem applies in transnational smuggling. 

Ambassador Ricardo Varela, President of the Conference of the Parties (COP), stated: “The elimination of all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products, including smuggling and illegal manufacturing, is an essential component of tobacco control.  In adopting this new Protocol today by consensus, countries have reiterated their historic commitment towards protecting the health of their citizens, particularly the young and vulnerable.”

So, what exactly is illegal conduct in international law?  The WHO FCTC tried to answer that question.  After the Conference of the Parties, participating countries then have to go through certain procedures.  Starting on January 10, 2013, the protocol is open to signatures for one year.  After one year, the ratification process will begin.  The protocol finally becomes enforceable 90 days after 40 parties go through the ratification process.   

Dr. Haik Nikogosian, Head of the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC, stated: “Eradicating illicit trade in tobacco products constitutes a clear win-win situation for governments and their people.  “The new Protocol establishes what actions constitute unlawful conduct and sets out related enforcement and international cooperation measures, such as licensing, information-sharing and mutual legal assistance that will help counteract and eventually eliminate illicit trade.”

The original WHO FCTC was adopted on May 21, 2003 by the World Health Assembly and became enforceable on February 27, 2005.  The new protocols have strengthened the international treaty, and the United Nations has strongly embraced the new protocols. 

Source: World Health Organization




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