SMOKE FREE PARTNERSHIP UPDATES

SFP QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER Edition 1, 2024


Monday, 25 March 2024

 
SFP Publications 

Updates from COP10/MOP3 

- COP10/MOP3 were held in Panama City, Panama, from the 5th to the 15th of February 2024 (after being postponed due to internal security reasons).
- COP10 adopted the historic decision to protect the environment from the harms of tobacco. This decision, which falls under Art. 18, urges Parties to "take account of the environmental impacts from the cultivation, manufacture, consumption and waste disposal of tobacco products". 
- A decision was taken to address cross-border tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) and the depiction of tobacco in entertainment media. 
- Two expert groups were established: one, under Art. 2.1, to work on forward-looking tobacco control measures; and the other to focus on Article 19, which concerns liability. 
- COP10 also adopted the Panama Declaration, which draws attention to the conflict between the tobacco industry's interests and those of public health. The Declaration makes clear the need for governments to comply with Article 5.3.
- Other decisions adopted by COP10 were related to the promotion of human rights through the WHO FCTC as well as strengthening the WHO FCTC Investment Fund. 

SFP Participation in External Events 

- On 31 January, SFP attended the 'Europe's Beating Cancer Plan' Event organised by the European Commission. The proposal for the Council Recommendation on Smoke-free environments was supposed to be released during the event. The explanation given for failing to do so is that the proposal is not yet ready and that publishing this kind of policy ahead of the elections would lead the electorate to vote for far-right parties. Rumours (confirmed by Politico) claim that the order to postpone the proposal's release indefinitely came directly from the Commission's President's Cabinet. 

NEWS FROM PARTNERS 

NGO Juventas developed a “No Smoking” smartphone app 

To encourage citizens to report cases of violation of the Law on the restriction of the use of tobacco products, NGO Juventas has developed the 'No Smoking" application (Zabranjeno pušenje) in cooperation with the Center for Monitoring and Research (CeMI) and supported by the World Health Organization. The application has been active since the last week of December and has received 195 reports so far; this indicates that the level of engagement of the citizens in the fight for life in a healthier environment is high. You can find this app on the websites www.zabranjenopusenje.me and www.disislobodno.me or you can download it on Google Play Store. 

British Government publishes the consultation outcome "Creating a smokefree generation and tackling young vaping" 

As a result of the publication of the consultation outcome, a Bill aimed at implementing the smoke free generation policy and enacting stricter regulations has been introduced to the Westminster Parliament. The proposed legislation includes bans on disposable vapes and grants new powers to regulate vape flavours, packaging, and display in shops to deter youth appeal. Implementation will occur through regulations under the Environment Act, with ongoing engagement to ensure effectiveness in curbing youth vaping. Additionally, the Bill will feature primary legislation prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to individuals born on or after January 1, 2009, without the need for further regulation. 

Vital Strategies' New Report "The Next Frontier in Tobacco Marketing" 

Vital Strategies’ Tobacco Enforcement and Reporting Movement (TERM) has released a report highlighting the tobacco industry's exploitation of digital platforms for product promotion and tobacco consumption advocacy. The report delves into the diverse range of digital strategies employed, revealing the emergence of novel marketing techniques alongside the evolution of existing ones. It also sheds light on the use of cutting-edge technological tools like NFTs and the 'metaverse' to advance tobacco promotion. Urging proactive measures, the report calls upon tobacco control stakeholders to preemptively address these advancements, ensuring that tobacco marketing doesn't proliferate unchecked, as it previously did on social media platforms. 

The 8th edition of the Canadian Cancer Society report is out 

On the 6th of February, the Canadian Cancer Society released the Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status ReportThe report ranks 211 countries and territories based on the size of their health warnings. The countries with the largest health warnings in the world are Timor-Leste (East Timor) and Turkey, with warning size of 92.5% (on average) of the front and back of cigarette packages (85% front, 100% back). The report indicates that 138 countries and territories now enforce picture warnings on cigarette packages. Moreover, 42 countries are actively pursuing measures for plain packaging, with 25 having finalized requirements, 3 implementing them, and 14 currently working on it. Canada has taken a pioneering step by mandating warnings directly on individual cigarettes starting in 2024, while Australia is in the process of developing similar regulations. Additionally, Canada has been requiring warnings both inside and outside cigarette packages since 2001, with Australia and Belgium progressing towards implementing package inserts. These strides signify significant progress in tobacco control efforts worldwide. 

Study examines the tobacco industry's lobbying activities at the French National Assembly 

study led by the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique (French School of Public Health) and the Comité National Contre le Tabagisme (CNCT, French National Committee for Tobacco Control) analysed over 1,100 parliamentary documents (written and oral questions from members of Parliament on tobacco taxation between 2000 and 2020) and the government's responses. Over 77% of the arguments oppose tobacco tax increases. They echo those put forward by the tobacco industry. The study shows that tobacconists are key in shaping the anti-tax narrative. 

New study on the "Reduction in smoking due to ratification of the FCTC in 171 countries" 

On the 6th of February, the article "Reductions in smoking due to ratification of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control in 171 countries" was published in the Nature Journal. The study states: “We demonstrated that the FCTC, over only one decade after ratification, led to a statistically significant acceleration of the decline in the overall number of smokers and in smoking prevalence below age 25 years, leading to about 24 million fewer smokers in this age group, consisting of 15.5% of projected smokers, and about 2 million more quitters at 45–59 years because of cessation.” 

The Examination's report on industry interference at COP10 

The Examination published an article summarising the decisions taken at COP10. Policymakers from countries all around the world gathered to discuss ways to reduce the millions of deaths caused annually by the tobacco industry.  

The biggest outcomes of this year were:

  • A 'milestone' decision was made, urging countries to hold the tobacco industry accountable for environmental damage caused throughout the entire tobacco production cycle, including cultivation, manufacturing, and waste disposal.

  • New guidelines were introduced to restrict tobacco product promotion on social media and online platforms, with suggestions for countries to enforce these regulations by withholding subsidies from media companies that violate them.

  • An expert group will explore additional anti-smoking measures not covered in the treaty, potentially including generational cigarette bans like those proposed in the U.K.
     
  • Another group will gather information to assist countries in legal actions against tobacco companies, aiming to hold them liable for the health harms their products cause. 

Who finances the tobacco sector in France? 

Several French banks continue to finance the tobacco industry despite promises to stop doing so, according to a report (in French) commissioned by SFP Partner Alliance Contre le Tabac (ACT). Since 2018, more than $5 billion in credit has been granted by French players to tobacco companies. In terms of investments, in November 2023 there was still $733 million invested in the sector by national financial institutions. 

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upholds tobacco-free generation law 

ASH reported that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently upheld a law in the town of Brookline that prohibits the sale of tobacco products to individuals born on or after January 1, 2000. This decision is likely to inspire similar laws in other towns. The law implements a phased-out approach known as the Tobacco-Free Generation (TFG) initiative. It is important to note that the law exclusively targets commercial sales and does not criminalise the purchase, possession, or usage of tobacco products, thus not making smoking itself illegal. 

Changes to the Slovenian tobacco legislation 

On March 13th, the Slovenian Coalition for Public Health, Environment, and Tobacco Control announced (in Slovenian) that both the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia (on March 7th) and the Committee on Health of the Republic of Slovenia (on March 12th) unanimously approved proposed amendments to Slovenian tobacco legislation. These changes include banning menthol flavor in electronic cigarettes and reducing the transition period for smoking rooms from five years to one. The legislation is anticipated to be ratified in Parliament this month, with the law expected to come into effect in April. Thank you to those who contributed to this exceptional result by taking the time to send a letter of support! 

The Green Claims Directive was adopted by the European Parliament 

On 13 March, the European Parliament adopted the Green Claims Directive. The text includes a ban on the tobacco industry greenwashing: "Article 13(1)e of the EU Tobacco Products Directive 2014/40/EU prohibits environmental claims on tobacco products and packaging, however it does not prohibit tobacco industry entities from making green claims about their activities as a whole, particularly through advertising campaigns on the environmental performance which could mislead consumers; therefore no environmental claims on tobacco industry activities should be allowed". 
Thanks to our Partner Alliance Contre le Tabac-ACT for working with MEPs to achieve this great result. 

Tax burden on cigarettes, RYO, HTPs, and e-cigarettes is now similar in Israel 

The Knesset (the unicameral legislature of Israel) has approved a new tax order for tobacco and nicotine products. The new order, which came into effect on 4 March, includes a 7% tax increase on cigarettes, RYO and HTPs as well as an increase in the tax on e-cigarettes, so that the burden on these products will be similar to that on cigarettes. The tax on e-cigarettes will enter into force in two stages, until 1 July 2024. The tax on e-cigarettes refers to both liquids (with or without nicotine) and disposable e-cigarettes (based on the volume of liquid in them). 

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