Guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
Protection of public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry
World Health Assembly resolution WHA54.18 on transparency in tobacco control process, citing the findings of the Committee of Experts on Tobacco Industry Documents, states that “the tobacco industry has operated for years with the express intention of subverting the role of governments and of WHO in implementing public health policies to combat the tobacco epidemic”.
The Preamble of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control recognized the Parties’ “need to be alert to any efforts by the tobacco industry to undermine or subvert tobacco control efforts and the need to be informed of activities of the tobacco industry that have a negative impact on tobacco control efforts”.
Further, Article 5.3 of the Convention requires that “in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law”.
The Conference of the Parties, in decision FCTC/COP2(14), established a working group to elaborate guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the Convention.
Without prejudice to the sovereign right of the Parties to determine and establish their tobacco control policies, Parties are encouraged to implement these guidelines to the extent possible in accordance with their national law.
Purpose, scope and applicability
Use of the guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the Convention will have an overarching impact on countries’ tobacco control policies and on implementation of the Convention, because the guidelines recognize that tobacco industry interference, including that from the State-owned tobacco industry, cuts across a number of tobacco control policy areas, as stated in the Preamble of the Convention, articles referring to specific tobacco control policies and the Rules of Procedure of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that efforts to protect tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry are comprehensive and effective. Parties should implement measures in all branches of government that may have an interest in, or the capacity to, affect public health policies with respect to tobacco control.
The aim of these guidelines is to assist Parties in meeting their legal obligations under Article 5.3 of the Convention. The guidelines draw on the best available scientific evidence and the experience of Parties in addressing tobacco industry interference.
The guidelines apply to setting and implementing Parties’ public health policies with respect to tobacco control. They also apply to persons, bodies or entities that contribute to, or could contribute to, the formulation, implementation, administration or enforcement of those policies.
The guidelines are applicable to government officials, representatives and employees of any national, state, provincial, municipal, local or other public or semi/quasi-public institution or body within the jurisdiction of a Party, and to any person acting on their behalf. Any government branch (executive, legislative and judiciary) responsible for setting and implementing tobacco control policies and for protecting those policies against tobacco industry interests should be accountable.
The broad array of strategies and tactics used by the tobacco industry to interfere with the setting and implementing of tobacco control measures, such as those that Parties to the Convention are required to implement, is documented by a vast body of evidence. The measures recommended in these guidelines aim at protecting against interference not only by the tobacco industry but also, as appropriate, by organizations and individuals that work to further the interests of the tobacco industry.
While the measures recommended in these guidelines should be applied by Parties as broadly as necessary, in order best to achieve the objectives of Article 5.3 of the Convention, Parties are strongly urged to implement measures beyond those recommended in these guidelines when adapting them to their specific circumstances.