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Kampala, November 10, 2016

Tobacco control advocates in Uganda have condemned the tactics by the Tobacco Industry to interfere with the 7th Conference of Parties, that is under way in India this week, 7-12, November, 2016. The Advocates under their umbrella of the Tobacco Control Coordination Mechanism/ Forum expressed concern that the tobacco industry in Uganda was lobbying government officials to use them to attend the ongoing COP 7 meeting so as to represent the interests of the tobacco industry. 

In a  joint press statement, the advocates stated that;

‘ We strongly condemn efforts by some government officials to connive with the tobacco industry to interfere with tobacco control polices even at the global level. ‘

The criticism followed media reports that the tobacco industry had lobbied some government officials to nominate delegates who would represent the Industry interest at the 7th session of the Conference of Parties. These delegates, including Members of Parliament, were nominated and travelled to India to attend the COP 7. However according to follow up media reports, these delegates that were not approved by the Ministry of Health were blocked from attending the conference, on orders of the officials from the Ministry of Health, as guided  by Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ( FCTC), section 4.9 which stipulates that; 

‘ Parties should not nominate any person by the tobacco industry or any entity working to further its interests to serve on delegations to meetings of the Conference of Parties, its subsidiary bodies or any other  bodies established pursuant to decisions of the Conference of Parties’ .

Accordingly, the TC advocates, in  a strong show of solidarity with the Ministry of Health, have  called on all government officials to abide by the tobacco control act , 2015 and desist from getting involved in tobacco industry efforts aimed at derailing public health policies.

 Press Release here

Banjul, October 28, 2016: 

The president of the Islamic Republic of the Gambia,  Sheikh Professor Alhagi Dr. Yahya A, J.J. Jameh has  called for the expeditious passing of the tobacco control bill, and promised  to assent to it as soon as  the National Assembly passes  into law. 

Accordingly, CTCA has learnt that the president has issued a directive for the immediate gazettment of the tobacco control bill for debate  in the National Assembly, following its approval by the sub-committee of cabinet. Ordinarily, the bill would have to first be discussed in cabinet before gazettement, a process the President has directed to bypass due to the importance and urgency of the issue of tobacco control. 

Gambia’s Minister for Health & Social Welfare Hon. Omar Sey revealed this while meeting a team of technical staff from CTCA that had paid a courtesy call on him in his Office in Banjul, on October 27th, 2016. The team wanted to establish the status of the tobacco control bill and devise strategies of ensuring that it is tabled in the National Assembly as soon as possible.    

Hon. Omar Sey assured CTCA that his entire government, including the presidency, is committed to having the bill passed into law before end of 2016.  He  lamented that rate at which young people are taking on smoking is alarming, adding that this calls for a comprehensive legislation to guide policy  if the tobacco problem is to be addressed. According to the WHO Global Tobacco Youth Survey( GTYS) of 2010, 24.5% of children aged 13 – 15 years old ever smoked cigarettes. Of these, 28.6% are boys while 20.3% are girls. 

Earlier in the week, CTCA, along with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoH& SW) carried out a training of over 30  tobacco control stakeholders and government technocrats to orient them on Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC so as to insulate them against tobacco industry interference. Over 18 government departments and line ministries, CSOs and the media participated in the training. 

In a separate session, CTCA and the MoH &SW held a meeting with the tobacco control multi-sectoral group to devise strategies of establishing a forum of champions in the National Assembly to spear head the debate.  

The Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry  Mr. Janko Jimbara hailed the efforts of the technical team at the NCD department adding that their commitment has been very crucial in ensuring that there momentum and support is built up the level of the president.

At the end of the mission, the Director for Health Promotion in the MoH &SW, Mr. Modou Njai hailed CTCA for their continued support to tobacco control in the Gambia and pledged to ensure that  his team provides the necessary assistance to the National Assembly  to guide the debate.  A number of legislators who attended the strategic meeting pledged to champion the cause and ensure that the bill is passed into law without any distortions. 

The 7th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 7)  is set to take place in India, Delhi,  from 7-12 November 2016.  The COP  is the most important global anti-tobacco conference, and holds regular sessions at two-year intervals under the auspices of  the WHO.   The main focus for this year’s session is the review of the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.  http://www.who.int/fctc/cop/cop7/Documentation-Main-documents/en/

The Implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC will also be discussed.  Parties are also expected to further development the partial guidelines for implementation of Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO FCTC, focusing on “Regulation of the contents of tobacco products” and “Regulation of tobacco product disclosures.  Other areas of focus  for the parties include; control and prevention of global emerging products like water pipe tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems, Economically sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing (in relation to Articles 17 and 18 of the WHO FCTC),  Implementation of Article 19 of the WHO FCTC,  Addressing gender-specific risks when developing tobacco control strategies; Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship: depiction of tobacco in entertainment media. 

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the WHO FCTC and is comprised of all Parties to the Convention. It keeps under regular review the implementation of the Convention and takes the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation, and may also adopt protocols, annexes and amendments to the Convention. 

The COP may establish such subsidiary bodies as are necessary to achieve the objective of the Convention. One example is the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on a Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. The COP has also established several working groups with the mandate to elaborate guidelines and recommendations for the implementation of different treaty provisions.

 

Niamey, August 10, 2016

The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa ( CTCA) in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, Niger have held an orientation workshop for government technocrats executing health policies to educate them on their role in implementing  Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC.  The workshop held at Hotel Sahel, in Niamey, also aims at empowering the custodians of public health policies with knowledge and skills of monitoring tobacco industry tactics aimed at interfering with public health policies; as well as insulating the technocrats against such infiltration. 

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