Thursday 11 January 2018

The Geneva Convention: COP8

The World Health Organisation's highly secretive Conference of the Parties (COP) for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is coming to Geneva this year.

Not so much coming to Geneva as staying in Geneva, as that is where the WHO is based. Two years ago, it was in highly polluted Delhi. Two years earlier, it had been in Putin's Moscow. The conference is renowned for locking its door to the public and kicking journalists out of the room. Despite being taxpayer-funded, taxpayers cannot even watch the sessions, let alone participate in them.

Transparency might be zero, but the decisions made at this conference can have a profound effect on nicotine consumers all over the world. The WHO is famously opposed to e-cigarettes and other safer nicotine devices. Many of the bans on the sale and use of e-cigarettes can be traced back to them.

Last year, the UK delegation consisted Andrew Black, an activist-bureaucrat from the Department of Health, and Deborah Arnott of the state-funded pressure group ASH. The WHO FCTC's approach to e-cigarettes and tobacco harm reduction is diametrically opposed to that of the British government, but that didn't stop Black and Arnott using the conference as an opportunity to announce that the Department of Health had decided to give the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control an extra £15 million. Soon afterwards, Andrew Black was given a job at the WHO on the FCTC Secretariat. What a small world!

Let's face it, the general public is not welcome at this shindig and ordinary consumers are not going to get in. Nevertheless, Geneva is a nice place to visit and is easy to get to. The dates are 1-6 October 2018. Why not pop it in your diary?

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