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Ratification of the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products is possible this year

12 May 2023

This is one of the key regulatory acts that Ukraine should ratify as part of its European integration obligations to combat tobacco. Ratification of the protocol will provide additional grounds for harmonizing Ukrainian legislation with EU legislation in the field of combating illegal trafficking in tobacco products. 

“Tobacco is the only legal product that kills half of its consumers. Due to the effects of tobacco smoking, more than 8 million people die every year in the world, of which 1.2 million are non-smokers. Illegal trade increases access to cheaper tobacco products, thereby fueling the epidemic of tobacco use and undermining the policy of combating it,” Rodrigo Santos Feijo, program manager of the secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, said in his speech during a working meeting on Ukraine's accession to the Protocol. 

The protocol on the elimination of illegal tobacco trade contains three key areas for combating contraband and counterfeit tobacco products:

  • Supply chain control: measures aimed at ensuring supply chain control, including the creation of a global product tracking regime. 
  • Anti-crime measures: measures aimed at ensuring the investigation, prosecution and punishment of illegal trade in tobacco products in accordance with national legislation.
  • International cooperation: measures aimed at strengthening cooperation between the parties to the Protocol on technical, administrative and legal issues. 

“The fight against tobacco smoking is a very important area for the state and one of the key points of the European Union - Ukraine Association Agreement. The issue of illegal tobacco trade is generally critical: according to estimates of the tax committee of the Verkhovna Rada, only in 2022, due to illegal trade in tobacco products, losses to the state budget reached almost 20 billion hryvnias. In general, Ukraine spends more than  3% of GDP on the treatment of smokers and the payment of compensation in case of disability,” Maryna Slobodnichenko, Deputy Minister of Health for European integration, commented on the importance of ratification of the Protocol.

According to her, now all the relevant central executive bodies support the ratification of the Protocol and have no critical comments on the procedure for Ukraine's accession. So, in the near future, the Ministry of Health, as the main stakeholder in this process, will send the relevant draft law to them for approval.      

For reference:

The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products is an integral part of the Framework Convention on tobacco control – the world's first international legal treaty in the field of public health, which imposes legal obligations and to which Ukraine joined in 2006. 

The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products came into force at the end of 2018. Its goal is to eliminate all forms of illegal trade in tobacco products. Currently, 66 countries are already parties to the Protocol, including the member states of the European Union and the European Union.