Sustain momentum on WHO ITP challenge, tobacco told

By Luke Barras-hill |


The first session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol took place in Geneva, Switzerland, 8-10 October.

Duty free tobacco is being instructed to continue crucial industry dialogue following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first *Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (MOP1) session to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

As reported, the WHO postponed an evidence-based research study ‘into the extent to which duty free contributes to the illicit trade of tobacco products’ in November at MOP1 following the Illicit Trade Protocol’s (ITP) entry into force in September.

The decision agreed by 48 of the ratifying countries to produce a roadmap within two years (November 2020) on the duty free question was received positively by the industry, but it is being urged not to rest on its laurels.


European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC) Senior Counsel Keith Spinks updated TRBusiness this month: “The goal at the moment is to maintain the awareness and interest of all stakeholders from the duty free industry, continuing on from the work on ITP they’ve undertaken on MOP1 leading up to MOP2.

“There isn’t a lot of time. We have to maintain the level of interest with the governments and administrations supportive of delaying the research. Our believe is that when they bring forward the research in a few years’ time, it will need to be viewed and looked at closely.”


Keith Spinks, Senior Counsel, ETRC.

One of the main objectives occupying the ETRC and Duty Free World Council is increasing understanding – across all trade channels – on track and trace, part of a number of protocol elements covering licensing and duty free.

Ratifying countries are mandated to introduce a track and trace regime within five years of the protocol’s entry.

“We want a harmonised track and trace regime for duty free […] so people understand the unique nature of the channel and how the supply chain works,” said Spinks, who reiterates a consistent argument made by the trade lobby that the provisions mandated by the protocol with regards to track and trace should be fully in effect before the research study into duty free is commissioned.

Once those systems are implemented the industry is confident it will be able to vigorously show that duty free is not a source of illicit trade when the research – which takes as its starting point the assumption that duty free is a contributor towards illicit trade in tobacco – is undertaken.

Watch out for the February issue for more on tobacco and the WHO ITP. Click here to subscribe.

*Part of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

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