Rapid Fire Session 2014 World Cancer Congress

Experience implementing WHO's trade and tobacco control capacity building module at regional and country-levels (#354)

Katherine DeLand 1
  1. DeLand Associates, LLC, Marina Del Rey, CA, United States

Background and Context:

Transnational companies are increasingly using international trade and investment agreements to frustrate governmental cancer prevention initiatives, particularly in tobacco control. Legal implications and the political economy of trade and investment law must be integrated into cancer prevention approaches. This presentation will focus on WHO’s intensive regional and country-level capacity building in the nexus of trade, tobacco control and health with over 75 governments and implications for other risk factor control initiatives.


The aims of WHO’s tobacco control and trade module are to:

  1. Raise awareness and build capacity in trade, health and tobacco control;
  2. Review recent legal challenges to tobacco control measures;
  3. Examine obligations under bilateral, regional and global trade instruments vis-à-vis the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its Guidelines; and
  4. Promote a “whole-of-government” approach to health and trade policy making.


WHO’s approach emphasizes the need for ministries to join forces to accelerate progress though a ‘health in all policies’ approach. To provide foundational training in health, tobacco control and trade law, WHO developed a 2-3 day module of presentations, interactive exercises and case studies targeted at government representatives.

Programme/Policy Process:

Workshops brought Ministries of Health, Trade, other relevant sectors and civil society together, with an eye to harmonizing health and trade objectives and to defending tobacco control policies from trade-related arguments proffered by the tobacco industry.

Outcomes/What was learned:

Participants reported substantially increased awareness of tobacco control and trade issues and obligations. Regional consultations often led to requests for specific, in-country support. Participant identified outcomes of the workshops included the need to:

  • Ensure implementation and strengthening of current regulations
  • Ensure that new trade obligations are mindful of health implications
  • Ensure that existing trade obligations are implemented in line with public health priorities
  • Not be swayed or intimidated by industry interference
  • Support tobacco farmers to transition to alternate crops or livelihoods