Barbados Heart Foundation



Nations Conclude Initial Talks on Smuggling, Counterfeiting and Illicit Manufacturing of Tobacco Products as Global Tobacco Epidemic Worsens

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Geneva, Switzerland. Official representatives of some 130 countries wrapped up talks in Geneva today on a new treaty, the Illicit Trade Protocol, to curb the smuggling, counterfeiting, and illicit manufacturing of tobacco products. The Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) – a group of over 300 civil society organizations – congratulates the participants on the spirit of cooperation that enabled them to make progress this week, but also urges them to continue to keep their purpose and common cause in mind as work on the treaty continues and the death toll from tobacco steadily increases.

“Illicit trade of tobacco products undermines countries’ ability to protect the health of their citizens and deprives national coffers of many billions of dollars of tax revenue,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of the FCA. “By agreeing to move forward on all of the key measures necessary to stop these illegal activities, the nations have made a promising start in addressing an international problem that requires international cooperation to solve.”

A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that one billion people will die from tobacco use this century unless current trends are reversed. The WHO also says that half the people that smoke today, about 650 million people, will eventually by killed by tobacco.

At this week’s negotiations – convened by the WHO – the FCA recommended to the participating nations that they retain important measures for addressing the illicit trade of tobacco products like cigarettes in the evolving text of the Protocol. These measures include international cooperation on investigation and prosecution of illicit trade cases, systems for tracking and tracing tobacco products, criminalization and increased penalties for illegal activity, and enhanced law enforcement.

The Protocol is being negotiated as a subsidiary agreement to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the international tobacco control treaty under which Parties agree to implement proven measures to address the rising global tobacco epidemic.

Tobacco products available from smuggling and counterfeiting operations undermine nations’ legitimate efforts to raise the price of these products. Raising prices of tobacco products through measures such as increased taxes is the most effective means of helping people to quit using them or keeping them from starting. Illegal trade also deprives national coffers of up to US$50 billion per year in lost tax revenue.

Earlier this week, the results of an investigation into illicit trade in the Balkan states were announced. The investigation uncovered links from the illicit trade of cigarettes to corrupt public officials and organized crime organizations.

Parties to the FCTC will meet at least once more this year to move forward in negotiations on the Illicit Trade Protocol, with further sessions planned before it is finalized and adopted in late 2010. The negotiating process for the Protocol is being conducted under the auspices of the WHO.

For more information about the Protocol negotiations and illicit trade, visit FCA online at

Information about the global tobacco epidemic, the FCTC, and the Illicit Trade Protocol can be found online at

Information about the investigation of illicit trade in the Balkan states can be found at


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