Article 4 of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)i sets out a number of guiding principles that should inform the measures adopted by Parties to implement the provisions of the Convention. These include:
General obligations to be fulfilled by each Party to the FCTC are listed in Article 5. These include the implementation and maintenance of comprehensive multisectoral national tobacco control strategies, plans and programs, and the establishment or reinforcement and financing of a national co-ordinating mechanism or focal points for tobacco control. Article 5 also requires Parties to cooperate with each other in the formulation of proposed measures, procedures and guidelines for the implementation of the Convention, and in the raising of financial resources for its implementation, and to cooperate with competent international and regional intergovernmental organisations and other bodies to achieve the objective of the Convention.
Under Article 5.3, Parties must, in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, 'act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law'. Further detail has been added to this general obligation by the adoption of guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 at the third session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP-3).iii The guidelines, recognising 'that tobacco industry interference, including that from the State-owned tobacco industry, cuts across a number of tobacco control policy areas', aim to assist Parties in meeting their legal obligations under Article 5.3. Their purpose is 'to ensure that efforts to protect tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry are comprehensive and effective'.
The guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 contain four guiding principles, eight core recommended activities with 34 specific sub-recommendations, and additional recommendations on enforcement, monitoring and international cooperation.
The guiding principles provide:
1. There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry's interests and public health policy interests.
2. Parties, when dealing with the tobacco industry or those working to further its interests, should be accountable and transparent.
3. Parties should require the tobacco industry and those working to further its interests to operate and act in a manner that is accountable and transparent.
4. Because their products are lethal, the tobacco industry should not be granted incentives to establish or run their businesses.
The eight core '[a] greed measures for protecting public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry' are:
1. Raise awareness about the addictive and harmful nature of tobacco products and about tobacco industry interference with Parties' tobacco control policies.
2. Establish measures to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensure the transparency of those interactions that occur.
3. Reject partnerships and non-binding or non-enforceable agreements with the tobacco industry.
4. Avoid conflicts of interest for government officials and employees.
5. Require that information provided by the tobacco industry be transparent and accurate.
6. Denormalise and, to the extent possible, regulate activities described as 'socially responsible' by the tobacco industry, including but not limited to activities described as 'corporate social responsibility'.
7. Do not give preferential treatment to the tobacco industry.
8. Treat State-owned tobacco industry in the same way as any other tobacco industry.
i WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, opened for signature 16 June 2003, 2302 UNTS 166 (entered into force 27 February 2005) (FCTC). Available from: http://www.who.int/fctc/text_download/en/index.html
ii The term 'civil society' refers broadly to the body of organisations that are non-profit and that function outside the State's official apparatus. The term 'civil society organisation' is often used interchangeably with 'nongovernmental organisation'.
iii Decisions of the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Durban, South Africa, 17–22 November 2008. Document FCTC/COP/3/DIV/3; 16 February 2009, p5. Decision FCTC/COP3(7)—Guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Available from: http://apps.who.int/gb/fctc/PDF/cop3/FCTC_COP3_DIV3-en.pdf.