The ASH Policy Team is in Panama for the Tenth Conference of the Parties (COP10) of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) from February 5 – 10, 2024. They will share updates and progress here for our community to stay engaged and informed throughout COP10.
February 6, 2024 – A typical day at the Conference of the Parties begins very early and ends very late, and today was no different.
At 7:00 AM, ASH begins by meeting with our civil society allies to discuss strategy for the day. Starting at 9:00 AM, we attend meetings with country Parties. The official Committee meetings begin mid-morning and run late into the evening.
ASH is here to listen, take notes, engage with Parties and civil society partners, and occasionally make interventions to advocate for our priorities. To safeguard the progress and integrity of the FCTC from tobacco industry interference, the negotiations, interventions and discussions from Committee are not public to share outside of accredited Parties and civil society organizations. The final plenary session will be public and that’s where the results of the week and adopted decisions will be announced.
After Committee meetings end, usually around 6:00 PM, our delegation meets again with country Parties, then we wrap up the formal portion of the day with a debrief among our civil society allies. We finish by preparing policy needs and action points for the following day, often working late into the night.
While the Conference of the Parties (COP) is the official purpose of this week, breaks in the official schedule are filled with side meetings and events that are important, informative, and advance our collective work. The ASH Delegation has been deeply involved in several of these events, with two highlights today.
ASH Board Member Dr. Carolyn Dresler moderated a panel on the FCTC as a tool to advance human rights, co-hosted by ASH and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK). ASH Managing Attorney Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy presented on how a COP Decision on Human Rights would be useful for advocacy at the international, national, and local level. She was joined by representatives from the delegations of Ecuador, Palau, and Australia, as well as colleagues from CTFK and ATCA, in discussing the importance of connecting tobacco control and human rights.
ASH Delegation member, Dr. Jessica Rath (Vice President, Truth Initiative Schroeder Institute), presented at a lunch session on Cross-Border Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS), co-sponsored by ASH, ENSP, the FCTC Secretariat, CTFK, GATC, and the Truth Initiative. Her presentation focused on how smoking and tobacco imagery in streaming content is a threat to young Americans.
The ASH team is encouraged by the progress being made on our COP priorities: human rights, Article 18 (the environment), and forward-looking tobacco control measures (Article 2.1).
At the Article 19 (liability) side event today, hosted by our partners at Corporate Accountability, the Panamanian Vice Minister of Health highlighted that the FCTC protects human rights, a crucial connection we are advocating for all week.
In the plenary meeting, the United States made a public statement that the rule banning menthol as a flavor in the United States “is in its final stages.” While that statement appears optimistic at face value, ASH remains skeptical of the self-congratulatory message to global peers while the life-saving rule is being intentionally stalled at home. ASH encourages the US Government to pay more than lip service to the menthol rule and finalize it. The menthol rule is a direct result of a lawsuit brought by ASH and our partners at AATCLC against the FDA for their inaction regulating menthol; the lawsuit is a fantastic illustration of how our domestic work and our international work compliment and advance each other to further tobacco control.
Tomorrow, ASH will participate in a side event on Forward-Looking Tobacco Control Measures with Canada and the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control (GATC) at 13:30 in Caribe 1-2. At the same time, ASH will join Brazil, Thailand, the FCTC Secretariat, the WHO Knowledge Hub for Article 17 and 18, and the WHO Knowledge Hub for Article 5.3 at the side event: Dialogues to Advance in the Implementation of Article 17 and 18 (environment) of the WHO FCTC at 13:30 in Caribe 3.
Join us tomorrow for two very valuable conversations.