WHO wants tobacco firms to stop smuggling with new treaty

GENEVA, Feb 15, 2008 (AFP) – The World Health Organisation announced Friday that it planned to adopt a new international treaty on the illegal tobacco trade by 2010. The existing FCTC agreement, signed in February 2005, aims to rein in the estimated five million annual deaths caused by smoking, which the WHO says will double by 2020 if nothing is done. “We have finally assessed that we want a protocol on the illicit trade of tobacco,” Ian Walton-George, the world health body’s top negotiator on the issue, told a press conference at Geneva.

The WHO has been meeting this week at its headquarters in the Swiss city to debate a new protocol on the illicit tobacco trade to tie in to its wider Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

“2010 is the date for finalising negotiations and adopting the text of the protocol,” said Haik Nikogosian, who heads the WHO’s anti-tobacco secretariat.

The illicit tobacco trade is estimated to make up approximately 10 percent of global tobacco sales and costs governments between 40 and 50 billion dollars (27-34 billion euros) every year.

In African countries such as Nigeria, its share is estimated to be even higher