WHO organises workshop to prevent illicit trade in tobacco product

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New Delhi, Sep 15 (UNI) To tackle the problem of illicit trade in tobacco products, the WHO-South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) and the Ministry of Health&Family Welfare are jointly organising a two-day regional workshop from today to create awareness and experience, sharing of issues and challenges in the region.

The Regional Workshop on Illicit Trade in Tobacco is being attended by delegates from the SEAR countries -- Bangladesh, Burma, Bhutan, China, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand&Timur-leste.

Minister for Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramadoss will inaugurate the workshop tomorrow, which would be a greater support to the Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

The workshop is being organised with the financial support from the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA). It is aimed at reviewing and assess countries' capacity to control illicit trade in tobacco products.

It would focus on identifying key actions in the region to support countries in their efforts to develop and implement measures to control illicit trade in tobacco products, including the role of WHO and other international organisations in this area.

It would also review the text for the Draft Protocol to the convention on illicit trade in tobacco, issued by the Chairman of INB.

The regional workshop aims to raise awareness regarding serious and adverse health consequences of illicit trade in tobacco products.

Illicit trade includes smuggling, evasion of the Central Excise duties/taxes and counterfeits. Each one of these undermine the efforts of the Government to collect taxes due on tobacco products.

The lost taxes could have been used for national programmes including tobacco control initiatives.

The illicit trade leads to availability of tobacco products at cheaper prices. Most countries in this region are grappling with the problem of illicit trade in tobacco products. There is also a realisation that Governments will need to work together to address this serious concern.

The WHO FCTC is the first global health treaty, which identifies key demand and key supply reduction strategies. The elimination of illicit trade is one of the such supply reduction strategies.

However, the effective implementation of the FCTC provisions will require binding obligation(s) among countries is also a firm commitment for international cooperation. The first protocol/treaty under the Convention is, therefore, being negotiated to regulate/ prohibit illicit trade in tobacco products.

The parties to the FCTC are presently negotiating the protocol and a number of key elements which are proposed to be discussed in the next round of negotiations, scheduled from 20-25 October at Geneva.

UNI AJ SW DS1630

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