The International Tobacco Growers’ Association of Africa is deeply concerned to hear reports that the United Nations (UN) intends to ban dozens of “appointed and elected officials from executive, legislative and judicial branches” representing tobacco-growing countries from participation in the next Conference of the Parties (CoP7) of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, billed for Delhi, India in November 2016.

The President of the International Tobacco Growers’ Association of Africa (ITGA), Francois van der Merwe, says, “We are outraged, but unsurprised, to hear that the FCTC wants to ban tobacco-growing country delegates from attending CoP7.

The FCTC has already banned tobacco farmers, tobacco manufacturers and the media from previous CoP meetings and it has now applied its undemocratic approach to nation states.

The proposed country delegate ban fundamentally impinges on the sacred sovereignty of these nations.

“Decisions taken at CoP7 will directly effect the livelihoods of 30 million tobacco farmers, as well as rural workers and their families in Africa and around the world. They make an important contribution of tobacco to their countries’ economies.

It is clear that this proposed ban is a flagrant breach of the democratic principle of consultation with affected parties. How can it be right that negotiations are being conducted by public health officials, who have little or no real knowledge of tobacco growing, the tobacco sector, and their economic importance in growing countries?”

At a recent meeting of the ITGA, tobacco growers requested the participation at CoP7 of the Ministries of Agriculture, Trade, Industry and Commerce, as well as relevant experts from tobacco sector member organizations.  This  is  particularly  important in  the  make-up  of  delegations  of  member  countries attending the CoP7, which will be responsible for adopting or rejecting proposals impacting on tobacco growers.

Growers noted with disappointment that since the beginning of the FCTC, growers have requested, without success or acknowledgment, that:

Their right to be consulted on the development of policies that have a direct impact on their livelihoods;

The significant economic contribution of the tobacco crop to the economies of tobacco- growing countries be recognized, and

A comprehensive economic study on the market be conducted and taken into account when proposing tobacco control measures.