The Union Cabinet has given approval to accede to 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 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). India is a party to WHO FCTC.
Features of Protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products
It lays down obligations on parties and spells out supply chain control measures that must be adopted by parties while licensing manufactures of tobacco products and machinery for manufacturing of tobacco products. It mainly deals with those engaged in production, tracking and tracing regime, record keeping and security. It also spells out measures to be taken by those engaged in e-commerce, manufacturing in free-trade zones and duty free sales. It lists out offences, enforcement measures such as seizures and disposal of seized products. It calls for international cooperation in information sharing, maintaining, training, technical assistance and cooperation in scientific and technical and technological matters.
The protocol is path breaking initiative in strengthening global action against tobacco. It is also new legal instrument in public health. It is comprehensive tool to counter and eventually eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products and strengthen legal dimensions for international health cooperation.
The protocol 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. It will provide India actionable alternatives against such prevailing practices that are affecting public health at large. It will provide India a platform to influence international organizations including World Custom Organization (WCO) in controlling such illicit trade.
The WHO FCTC is the first international public health treaty negotiated under auspices of WHO. Its objective is to provide framework for supply and demand reduction measures for tobacco control at national, regional and global levels. One of the key tobacco supply reduction strategies enshrined in Article 15 of WHO FCTC envisages elimination of all forms of illicit trade and tobacco products, including smuggling, illicit manufacturing and counterfeiting. The Protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products was developed and adopted by Conference of Parties (COP) which is governing body of FCTC. It is divided into 10 parts and contains 47 Articles.