Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States supports international measures to stop illicit tobacco trade


Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab addressed the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS) on 29 November 2018

The Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS) agreed at its 48th Plenary Session, to support the ratification of the WHO Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products by national parliaments. Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, addressed the Assembly on 29 November 2018.

The Protocol, part of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), was developed to fight the growing international illicit trade in tobacco products, which poses a serious threat to public health. Illicit trade increases the accessibility and affordability of tobacco products, and undermines tobacco control policies. It also causes substantial losses in government revenues, and at the same time contributes to the funding of transnational criminal activities. As of today, more than 50 countries across the world have ratified the Protocol. Yet although all CIS countries are Parties to the WHO FCTC, to date none have ratified the Protocol on illicit tobacco trade.

Thanking the Assembly for its support for the Protocol, Dr Jakab commented, “As parliamentarians, you wield enormous power to improve the health of millions. You have both the authority and the responsibility to promote the highest standards of health and well-being for your people, through your roles in legislation, oversight and accountability, budgeting and advocacy”.

WHO collaboration with the IPA CIS

WHO/Europe and the IPA CIS have strengthened collaboration in recent years, and in March 2018, signed a memorandum of understanding on broader cooperation. This includes WHO providing technical assistance in preparing and localizing model laws relevant to health.

Dr Jakab met with leading members of the IPA CIS during her visit, including Yury Osipov, Secretary General of the IPA CIS Council; Arif Ragimzade, Chairman of the IPA CIS Permanent Commission on Social Policy and Human Rights, and Chairman of the Azerbaijan Parliament Committee on Regional Issues; Konstantin Kosachev, Deputy Chairman of the IPA CIS Permanent Commission on Political Issues and International Cooperation, and Chair of the Committee on International Affairs of the Russian Federation Council; Alexander Bashkin, Deputy Chair of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Governance; and Yury Sherbuk, Chair of the IPA CIS Expert Committee on Health, and Dean of the Stomatology Faculty of St Petersburg State Medical University.

Issues discussed included further steps towards national ratification of the Protocol, and strengthening collaboration with WHO. Dr Jakab underlined that more work is needed to ensure that international agreements such as the WHO FCTC and the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) are transposed into national law, and plans to hold an informal session on the IHR with IPA CIS permanent commissions were agreed. A request was also made for WHO’s assistance in developing a plan of model law-making related to health in the CIS for 2020–2025. The Regional Director invited representatives of the IPA CIS to attend a forthcoming session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe.