The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) agreed Wednesday on a draft protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products after four years of negotiations.
The protocol will be submitted for consideration and adoption at the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in Seoul, capital of the Republic of Korea, in November.
"This is a historic moment for global tobacco-control efforts, as this is the first protocol under the WHO FCTC," said Ian Walton-George, chairman of the INB.
"By agreeing to this Protocol, governments have reiterated their commitment to protect public health and tackle illicit trade in tobacco products," he said.
The protocol, hammered out by officials from 135 countries, sets the rules for combating illicit trade in tobacco products through control of the supply chain. It also established what constitutes unlawful conduct and set out related enforcement and international cooperation measures.
Under the protocol, the parties proposed to establish a global tracking and tracing system for tobacco products and reached an agreement on other measures, such as licensing, liability, enforcement, information-sharing and mutual legal assistance.
These measures were designed to counteract and eventually eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco products.
The WHO FCTC was adopted by the World Health Assembly on May 21, 2003 and entered into force on February 27, 2005. It has since become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations' history, with 174 parties to date.
The INB was established by the Conference of the Parties in 2007 and has held five sessions since then to complete the negotiations.