WHO postpones illicit trade and tobacco control meetings until 2021

By Andrew Pentol |

DFWC-tobacco-main-2020The World Health Organisation (WHO) has today (28 April) announced the postponement of key meetings on illicit trade and tobacco control until November 2021.

The Duty Free World Council (DFWC) has expressed serious concern at proposals that will be discussed at these meetings, which allege that the duty free industry is a source of illicit trade. Based on that premise, the WHO has the ultimate aim of banning the sale of duty free tobacco products.

In conversation with TRBusiness during a recent edition of this publication’s Adapt & Survive Skype video series, Sarah Branquinho, President, DFWC confirmed that  a new campaign launched in January addressing recurring allegations of illicit trade contained in the WHOs Illicit Trade Protocol had received ‘tremendous buy-in’ from retailers worldwide, before the pandemic hit.

Reacting to today’s postponement of the illicit trade and tobacco control meetings Branquinho commented: “The Duty Free World Council acknowledges the decision taken by the FCTC Secretariat to reschedule the next round of meetings until November 2021. It is right for the WHO to be focused on the very real threat of Covid-19.

“In the face of the Covid-19 outbreak, the duty free industry’s contribution to the recovery and ongoing success of the travel sector is going to be critical. In the months ahead, our sector will be central to helping drive the revenues needed to fuel the biggest economic recovery effort the global aviation and maritime sectors have ever seen.”


Branquinho-DFWC-PresidentWhile industry operating conditions have changed in the short term, the message remains the same. “The duty free channel is a transparent, controlled and legitimate retail channel vital to the growth and success of airports and ports across the world.

“That is a message which will continue to be repeated across the world by our retailers, airport, airline and maritime partners.”

The DFWC remains adamant that any study run by the WHO under Article 13 of the Illicit Trade Protocol should only be undertaken if sufficient time is provided for existing measures within the protocol to take place.

Branquinho (pictured left) concluded: “While the next FCTC meetings will now take place in 2021, the Duty Free World Council will not be pulling back on its campaign to defend the duty free industry from unfair accusations and unwarranted attacks under the pretext of controlling illicit trade.

“We will continue to make our case across the world to help regulators understand both the economic value of our sector and the integrity, security and transparency of our industry.”

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