Union cabinet approves WHO protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products

The cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given approval to accede to the Protocol under World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on tobacco control to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products. It will be applicable to both smoking and chewing or smokeless tobacco (SLT) forms as negotiated and adopted under Article 15 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).  India is a party to WHO FCTC

Cabinet approves WHO protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products
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The protocol lays down obligations of the parties. It spells out supply chain control measures that must be adopted by the parties viz. licensing of manufacture of tobacco products and machinery for manufacturing of tobacco products, due diligence to be kept by those engaged in production, tracking and tracing regime, record keeping, security; and measures to be taken by those engaged in e-commerce, manufacturing in free-trade zones and duty free sales.

The protocol lists out offences, enforcement measures such as seizures and disposal of seized products. It calls for international cooperation in information sharing, maintaining confidentiality, training, technical assistance and cooperation in scientific and technical and technological matters.

Elimination of illicit trade in tobacco products through strengthened regulation will help in strengthening comprehensive tobacco control, leading to reduction in tobacco use which in turn, will result in reduction in disease burden and mortality associated with tobacco use.

Accession to such treaty will provide actionable alternatives against such prevailing practices that are affecting public health at large. India, being at the forefront of tobacco control, would be able to influence the international organizations including World Custom Organization in controlling such illicit trade.

The protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products is a path-breaking initiative in strengthening global action against tobacco and is also a new legal instrument in public health. It is a comprehensive tool to counter and eventually eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products and to strengthen legal dimensions for international health cooperation.

Speaking about this Dr Ravi Mehrotra, Director, National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research said, “Give more teeth to implementation towards stopping cross border illicit trade.”