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Despite resounding criticism of COP10 from consumers, THR advocates and healthcare professionals, the WHO has applauded its own efforts to promote prohibitionist policies. In this episode Will Godfrey (Filter Magazine) recaps the proceedings of COP10 in Panama, featuring member state rebellions and fight back from consumers and advocates - you don't want to miss this!


0:00 - Coming up on today's programme
0:36 - What happened at COP10?
1:20 - Consumers EXCLUDED from COP10
3:05 - Advocates fight back against WHO
4:01 - Closing remarks


00:00:04 --> 00:00:15

Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome! I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFNTV. Today we will be speaking with Will Godfrey of FILTER about events in Panama,

00:00:37 --> 00:00:43

Joanna Junak: Hi Will. You have just spent a week in Panama. Can you describe what brought you there?

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Will Godfrey: Hi Joanna. Well, indirectly it was the COP10 meeting of the 182 nations that are parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,

00:00:58 --> 00:01:24

Will Godfrey: Given the WHO's hostility to tobacco harm reduction, observers feared further damaging restrictions could be adopted at COP10 and then implemented as policy in many countries. What brought me to Panama City directly was a counter-programmed event called Good COP, organized by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and intended to platform evidence-based voices and THR consumers in response to the WHO threats.

00:01:25 --> 00:01:29

Joanna Junak: And what were some notable things to come out of the week?

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Will Godfrey: COP10 had a major transparency deficit, but as expected, it hosted many egregious anti-harm reduction positions. While THR consumer groups were entirely excluded, Bloomberg-funded NGOs had a strong presence and anti-THR activists were welcomed. In her closing address to COP10, Dr. Adriana Blanco-Marquizo, head of the FCTC Secretariat, approvingly quoted one of their lines. "The interests of the tobacco industry or even of smokers should never serve as justification for legitimizing products that could send even a single child down the path of addiction." It's the youth vaping outcry on the global stage. And when millions of people who smoke are dying every single year, I think that's an unconscionable statement. Another shameful display was a mocked up cancer flavour vape image shared by Spain's health minister who attended COP10. No good evidence supports the claim that vaping causes cancer and people who switch from cigarettes greatly reduce their cancer risk. But in terms of substance, COP10 didn't turn out nearly as badly as it might have. There was pushback from a small number of delegations that emphasized the importance of tobacco harm reduction, such as those from St. Kitts and Nevis and New Zealand. Such disagreements meant that the WHO didn't get everything its own way. While measures on areas like advertising and the environment were adopted, the worst threats to THR products were effectively pushed down the road until COP11 in 2025. That counts as a bullet dodged for now.

00:03:11 --> 00:03:14

Joanna Junak: And how have tobacco harm reduction advocates reacted?

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Will Godfrey: The people I was with in Panama were determined to counter the WHO message and subject COP10 to scrutiny. They presented evidence to support THR and refute the WHO narrative. In contrast to COP10, international consumer groups were well represented, and I spoke with consumers who told me about attacks on THR in places from Australia to South Africa to Latin America. There's a degree of relief among advocates that the worst threats of COP10 were averted, but the battle has only been prolonged, not won. And there's continuing disgust that the WHO and many national governments obstruct and lie about THR while over a billion people who smoke pay the price.

00:04:01 --> 00:04:16

Joanna Junak: Thank you Will. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the GFN TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.