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Tobacco protocol

by Mark Rowe

The Head of Secretariat of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), Dr Haik Nikogosian, and the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, met at WCO Headquarters on January 16, to discuss cooperation between the two Organizations in light of the adoption of the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products late last year.

The visit follows the Protocol signing ceremony at WHO Headquarters on January 10, where 12 Contracting Parties to the WHO FCTC – China, France, Gabon, Libya, Union of Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey and Uruguay – signed the instrument in the presence of various guests, including representatives from the WCO and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the WHO FCTC Secretariat’s two international partners.

The meeting between Secretary General Mikuriya and Dr Nikogosian explored ways in which the WCO could contribute to raising awareness about the Protocol before its entry into force and also touched upon the capacity building will of the WCO, its regional entities and their possible role in supporting the objectives of the Protocol after its entry into force.

“Customs administrations will have a vital role to play in managing and enforcing the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products,” said Secretary General of the WCO, Dr Kunio Mikuriya. “I would therefore strongly encourage all WCO Members to reach out to their counterparts in other relevant national authorities to make best use of this key instrument in fighting tobacco smuggling and dismantling criminal rings linked to this illicit trade,” he added.

The Protocol is aimed at combating illegal trade in tobacco products through control of the supply chain and enhanced international cooperation, thereby protecting people around the world from the health risks of tobacco, ensuring that all Customs, excise and other tax revenues due are collected and accounted for, and reducing the burden on national health systems.

“Bolstered by a long history of cooperation over the years in many areas, and more specifically the active role played by the WCO Secretariat in helping to bring the Protocol to fruition, the WCO and the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC in cooperation with the UNODC are committed to working even closer to ensure that the Protocol meets its laudable objectives,” Secretary General Mikuriya concluded.

The Protocol will come into force 90 days after the 40th WHO FCTC Contracting Party has ratified it.

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