The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products is an international treaty with the objective of eliminating all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products through a package of measures to be taken by countries acting in cooperation with each other: it is a global solution to a global problem.
The Protocol was developed in response to the growing illicit trade in tobacco products, often across borders. Illicit trade poses a serious threat to public health because it increases access to – often cheaper – tobacco products, thus fueling the tobacco epidemic and undermining tobacco control policies. It also causes substantial losses in government revenues, and at the same time contributes to the funding of international criminal activities.
The Protocol consist of ten different parts, of which the chapters on supply chain control, law enforcement and international cooperation are the most substantive. Important features include the establishment of a tracking and tracing system for tobacco products (Article 8) and the establishment of the Protocol as a basis for judicial cooperation such as mutual legal assistance (Article 29) between Parties. Furthermore, the Protocol provides officials in law enforcement, customs and the judiciary with the possibility to exchange information on possible offences concerning illicit trade in tobacco products. The Protocol was negotiated by the Parties to the WHO FCTC over several years and entered into force on 25 September 2018. The first Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol was celebrated, in Geneva, from 8 – 10 October 2018.