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The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) stands to significantly reduce tobacco-related mortality by accelerating the introduction of evidence-based tobacco control measures. However, the extent to which States Parties have implemented the Convention varies considerably. Article 5.3 of the FCTC, is intended to insulate policy-making from the tobacco industry’s political influence, and aims to address barriers to strong implementation of the Convention associated with tobacco industry political activity. This paper quantitatively assesses implementation of Article 5.3’s Guidelines for Implementation, evaluates the strength of Parties’ efforts to implement specific recommendations, and explores how different approaches to implementation expose the policy process to continuing industry influence.
We cross-referenced a broad range of documentary data (including FCTC Party reports and World Bank data on the governance of conflicts of interest in public administration) against Article 5.3 implementation guidelines (n = 24) for 155 Parties, and performed an in-depth thematic analysis to examine the strength of implementation for specific recommendations.
Across all Parties, 16% of guideline recommendations reviewed have been implemented. Eighty-three percent of Parties that have taken some action under Article 5.3 have introduced less than a third of the guidelines. Most compliance with the guidelines is achieved through pre-existing policy instruments introduced independently of the FCTC, which rarely cover all relevant policy actors and fall short of the guideline recommendations. Measures introduced in response to the FCTC are typically restricted to health ministries and not explicit about third parties acting on behalf of the industry. Parties systematically overlook recommendations that facilitate industry monitoring.
Highly selective and incomplete implementation of specific guideline recommendations facilitates extensive ongoing opportunities for industry policy influence. Stronger commitment to implementation is required to ensure consistently strong compliance with the FCTC internationally.