Delegation leaves for India to fight on behalf of tobacco agribusiness

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Although still not certain of having access to the 7th Conference of the Parties, representatives of a supply chain that brought in more than R$ 5 billion for the farmers in the past growing season, are leaving for India this Thursday, November 3.

November 2016 – A long trip full of uncertainties. This has been the history of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first and only international public health treaty of the World Health Organization. Adopted by the World Health Assembly on May 21st, 2003, FCTC entered into force on February 27th, 2005. A division of the United Nations Organization (UNO), up until now 180 countries have ratified the treaty, including Brazil, second largest producer and biggest exporter of leaf tobacco since 1993. Relevant competitors in the global trade of tobacco, like Argentina, the United States and Mozambique, did not sign the protocol.
On 27 October 2005 the adhesion of Brazil to the FCTC was formally ratified by the Federal Senate, with reservations regarding the protection of the production and free trade. Back then, a document signed by six ministers, stated that the production and exportation of tobacco would suffer no limitations.
“What we saw in past years was a government in a hurry to accept the recommendations of the Conferences of the Parties (COP), without taking into consideration the economic and social importance of tobacco in the Country”, says Iro Schünke, president of the Interstate Tobacco Industry Union (SindiTabaco).

The initial target of the Framework Convention, back in 2003 when it was approved, was to reduce the consumption of cigarettes and exposure to cigarette smoke. Restrictions were enacted, and others are suggested against publicity, tobacco advertising, sponsorship, sales outlets, spaces where smoking is allowed, cigarette additives, tax increases, etc. Other issues have equally been addressed in this forum, like the limitation and reduction of the planted area, end of technical assistance and of the integrated production system (a great differential of the tobacco sector), discrimination of tobacco from other farm crops, among others.

Although jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of people, especially in South Brazil, entities linked to the supply chain are not allowed to attend COPs. In the Brazilian delegation, only representatives of the National Committee for the Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (Conicq, in the Portuguese acronym), led by the Ministry of Health, have access to the meetings. Although still uncertain about the authorization to attend the meeting, several representatives of the supply chain are leaving for India this week, where the 7th Conference of the Parties (COP7) will be held from November 7 to November 12. It is the moment when the delegations of the Parties debate and approve directives intended to guide the countries in the introduction of national measures.

“On several occasions the supply chain had to get mobilized to avoid being affected. Although prevented from attending the meeting, we need to remain alert so as not to be taken by surprise with measures that could fight the crop, income and jobs for thousands of Brazilians. This is the only conference in the world under the supervision of the UNO in which the real interested parties are not allowed to take part, infringing on basic principles of democracy and transparency. There is need to watch closely, debate and insist with the authorities to fight for a more powerful voice of Brazil in strategic decisions that affect the economy of hundreds of municipalities in the South”, concludes Schünke, who is also leaving for India on Thursday, November 3.

CONCERN – Of all the issues to be debated at COP7, the request for the World Health Organization (WHO) to intervene in matters of commercial nature, is a cause for concern for the sector. Tobacco, as well as other products exported by the Country, is an integral part of international agreements under the supervision of the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the WHO wants to withdraw tobacco from these agreements, which could greatly jeopardize all exports, especially Brazilian exports, responsible for 30% of all leaf shipments in the world”, says Schünke. “Brazil is a protagonist at the Framework Convention and what worries us is the lack of transparency on matters to be debated. We need to clarify Brazil’s stance on this and other subjects during the Conference, so as to prevent the supply chain from being jeopardized. We want more transparency and balance within this context”, states the executive officer.

KNOW MORE – Brazil is the 2nd biggest producer and the leading global exporter of leaf tobacco. The tradition of tobacco farming in Brazil stems from the high profitability of the crop in small-scale farms. In the 2015/16 growing season, upwards of 144 thousand farmers in 574 municipalities in South Brazil produced 539 thousand tons. Revenue earned by the farmers was in excess of R$ 5.2 billion. In 2015, shipments abroad amounted to 517 thousand tons, bringing in revenue of US$ 2.19 billion. The integrated production system is responsible for this leadership, as it excels in quality and product integrity, with technical assistance and purchase of the total crop from the farmers. This leadership is also related to sustainable production in the Country, where initiatives focused on farmers’ health and safety, the preservation of the environment and child and adolescent protection are held in high esteem. Statistics and infographics on the sector of tobacco

Historical mark of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

1988 – First health warnings on cigarette packages.

1996 – Law 9294/96 creates the general regulation for tobacco.

1999 – World Health Organization starts negotiations for the creation of the first international health treaty: the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). In the meantime, the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) is created and begins to register all tobacco products.

2003 – Approval of the FCTC at the World Health Assembly and the Brazilian government signs the treaty. The National Committee for the Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was created. It is responsible for articulating the implementation of the treaty.

2005 – Brazil ratifies the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), but the Brazilian government pledges not to jeopardize the production of tobacco in the country, through an Interpretative Declaration signed by six ministers.

2006 – COP1 (Geneva, Switzerland) sets forth procedure and financing rules, giving rise to initial debates on sponsorships, promotions and illicit trade. Recommendations are devised on smoking in public places, along with regulations related to cigarette ingredients.

2007
– COP2 (Bangkok, Thailand) creates an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body for the creation of an International Protocol on the Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products.

2008 – COP3 (Durban, South Africa) introduces directives for the implementation of Articles 5.3 (ban on dialogue with the industry), 11 (packaging) and 13 (advertisements, sponsorships and promotion of tobacco products).

2010 – COP4 (Punta del Este, Uruguay) approves directives for the application of Articles 12 (communication and public awareness) and 14 (means for quitting the habit of smoking), and partial directives for the application of Articles 9 and 10 (ingredients and disclosure of cigarette ingredients). It also decides to create a working group to come up with directives on prices and fiscal policies (Article 6), as well as carry on with the work on economically sustainable alternatives to tobacco farming.

2012 – COP5 (Seoul, South Korea) passes the International Protocol on the Illicit trade of Tobacco Products. It also suggests a tobacco farming diversification policy, which was not approved, and it also suggests the continuity of the Working Group on Articles 17 and 18 (economically viable alternatives and matters related to farmers’ safety and health, and protection of the environment).

2014 – COP6 (Moscow, Russia) recovers the status of the International Protocol on the Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products, which up until that moment has not attracted the necessary number of adhesions for its implementation. It approves the report on Articles 17 and 18 (economically viable alternatives and matters related to farmers’ safety and health, and protection of the environment). It introduces directives for the implementation of measures relative to prices and taxes, with the aim to reduce demand for tobacco and started debates on commercial and investment questions, including international agreements.

2016 – COP7 (Delhi, India) is supposed to resume the debates on commercial and investment questions, including international agreements. It will address the report on economically sustainable alternatives to tobacco farming (Articles 17 and 18) and is likely to suggest additional directives as to how strengthen its implementation. Know the COP7 Agenda

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