Negotiators take aim at tobacco smuggling

Negotiators in Geneva reported significant progress in efforts to stop smuggling and counterfeiting tobacco products, the World Health Organization said Sunday.

But a week of talks among 169 countries failed to produce a final agreement, WHO said. The talks did lead to provisions aimed at controlling the supply chain for tobacco products through a tracking and tracing system and licensing for manufacturers and others in the tobacco trade.

Illicit trade in cigarettes costs governments $40.5 billion in lost revenue every year, hurting low- and middle-income countries most, while undermining efforts to curb smoking and fueling organized crime and terrorism, WHO said.

“We have not yet achieved an effective and workable protocol,” said Laurent Huber, director of the Framework Convention Alliance, comprising more than 350 non-government organizations working on a global tobacco treaty. “We look forward to continuing to work with governments until they can agree to an effective tool to curb the illicit trade of tobacco products, a global curse that robs governments of uncollected tax revenues (and) promotes the consumption of tobacco products, which in turn leads to premature death and disease. Governments must and should come together to solve it.”

The outcome of the talks will be reported in November at the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Montevideo, Uruguay.


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