The 10th meeting of the conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention will be held from the 5th to the 10th of February in Panama [details].
The question for many delegates will be: how do I get through this week? There may be moments of inspiration, but these will punctuated with long periods of tedious speeches and deliberations from which all but a few will be excluded.
Here are some ideas and resources to keep the blood flowing and the brain alive.
Navigating the agenda – a critical commentary
Q. With dozens of papers and a lengthy and often boring agenda, how should delegates survive the week?
A. Skilfully navigate the bureaucratic detail and focus only on the things that matter, taking a sceptical and critical view of the agenda and papers. This detailed commentary on the agenda below will help. I have provided a commentary on the papers and agenda in a 2-column, side-by-side format.
See this: Side-by-side commentary on the COP-10 annotated agenda (my main commentary on COP-10, based on FCTC/COP10/1 – the aganda)
The purpose and approach
Q. What are the main reasons to be there?
A. Senior officials should approach COP10 with scepticism but not cynicism, with clarity about their national goals and with some tough questions about trade-offs, unintended consequences and evidence. Here is my five-part advice for delegates. Eyes on the ball – a guide for delegates attending COP-10
Q. Are there credible independent experts with a different perspective on these issues that delegates should consider?
A. Yes, it is often falsely argued that harm reduction is just a trick by tobacco companies, but there are many in the expert community that support harm reduction. The concept of harm reduction is well-established as humane and pragmatic in other areas of public health. Delegates can consult a range of expert views here:
- Two former Directors of WHO and world authorities on non-communicable diseases writing in the Lancet, 2 February 2024. Professor Robert Beaglehole and Professor Ruth Bonita
Harnessing Tobacco Harm Reduction The Lancet
- Fifteen past presidents of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco explain the controversies in the science
Balancing Consideration of the Risks and Benefits of E-Cigarettes
- Action on Smoking and Health (UK) debunks many myths
Addressing common myths about vaping: Putting the evidence in context
- 100 independent experts write to delegates in support of a more pragmatic approach to tobacco harm reduction in the FCTC
Letter from 100 specialists in tobacco science, policy and practice – regarding tobacco harm reduction and WHO – PDF versions: English, Français, Español, Deutsch
Show me the evidence
Q. Are there concise summaries of some of the key issues backed by extensive referencing?
A. Yes, there are. To understand the issues, a delegate needs both a valid conceptual framework and the detailed evidence that supports it. You can access four evidence briefs here: Evidence briefs for tobacco harm reduction
- Evidence Brief 1: Vaping is far less harmful than smoking [PDF] [Google Doc]
- Evidence Brief 2: Vaping Displaces Smoking [PDF][Google Doc]
- Evidence Brief 3: Understanding Youth Use [PDF][Google Doc]
- Evidence Brief 4: Policymaking for novel and emerging products [PDF][Google Doc]
Q. Is there a succinct summary in video form?
A. Yes, here it is – just two minutes by me.
Can I test my knowledge?
Q. Is there a quiz where I can test my knowledge?
A. Not really. But there is a quiz where you can test your thinking: Rethinking nicotine – a quiz
Other interesting material
Q. Are there important and interesting insights that have been unjustifiably excluded from the COP?
A. Yes, there are several interesting perspectives excluded from the official proceedings that are worth considering, even if you ultimatel disagree with them. You can access some interesting perspectives here:
- Good COP – Bad COP – the good COP is the Conference of the People. A fact-checking and challenge initiative from the Taxpayer’s Protection Alliance with experts and consumers present in Panama City during the COP.
- FCTC COP-10 scorecard – Tobacco Harm Reduction Network, led by Dr Derek Yach, former Director at WHO and original architect of the FCTC.
- COPWatch is a consumer guide to the COP and contains several excellent critiques of WHO and the Secretariat.
- FCTC and COP: an explainer – Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction sets out significant issues with the substance and process of COP-10.
If all else fails
Because saving millions of lives is only part of the job… and why not live a little?