The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is currently holding its Conference of the Parties (COP10) in Panama City. The conference has been met with delicate behind-the-scenes negotiations and deadlocks, as it seeks to push its agenda forward. The initial trials among the more than 160 countries present have led to differences regarding the content of the agenda, putting the success of the event at risk.
The Wednesday’s plenary session lasted until 10 p.m., indicating a sense of urgency to settle disputes and refine consensus. The success of this conference relies on the commitment of parties to put into practice what they agree upon, as stated by one delegate. This is the first in-person summit in six years, and there is a sense of urgency to update the FCTC due to delays caused by the pandemic.
A major priority on the agenda is defining how heated tobacco devices and vaping products should be treated. These products are marketed by tobacco companies as less harmful than conventional cigarettes but are asserted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to deserve similar severity as other tobacco products. Additionally, debates continue regarding cigarette waste and whether smoking should be considered a violation of human rights.
Certain countries, including Guatemala, Guyana, Caribbean nations, Philippines, China, Mozambique, Russia seek to debate if enough scientific evidence exists about these products and propose creating working groups to further investigate postponing decisions. It is suspected that tobacco companies potentially have influence over divergent opinions on these issues.
Adriana Blanco, head of FCTC executive acknowledges that there are controversial topics related to new tobacco and nicotine products; she states that it will be very difficult to reach a consensus on these issues