The World Health Organization is at it again, this time pushing the helpful and benign concept of World No Tobacco Day this coming Sunday. That’s an admirable enough goal, I suppose, since they’re ostensibly looking to address a wide variety of health issues. But as is their usual modus operandi, there is far more to it than meets the eye. This year they are claiming to be interested in stopping the illicit trafficking of tobacco, which is also an admirable goal. Unfortunately they are hardly the right messengers for this.

On World No Tobacco Day, 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean is calling on countries to stop the illicit trade of tobacco products, by committing to, and becoming Party to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. “Ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to the Protocol,” says WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ala Alwan, “is the starting point to saving lives lost to tobacco”…

Cigarettes, shisha and smokeless tobacco are being smuggled across borders. These illicit products are untaxed and unregulated, with no health warnings, packaging or labeling requirements; which makes them cheaper, more readily available and accessible, especially to young and poor people.

Affordability and accessibility lead to increased use, this downward spiral into poverty and illness because of money spent on tobacco, and additional money spent on treating its ill-health effects, has dire health and economic consequences.

If the WHO really wanted to shut down illegal trafficking on an international level, don’t you suppose they’d want to enlist the help of an appropriate law enforcement agency? Say… INTERPOL? And yet, for their big annual shindig, when INTERPOL asked about coming to lend a hand, they were shut down cold.

INTERPOL’s application should be rejected on the basis that, as long as its agreement with Philip Morris International (PMI) is in force, its participation in FCTC discussions would be inconsistent with the FCTC and the ITP.

As the police have a crucial role to play in ITP implementation, INTERPOL should be invited to re-apply for observer status in 2015, once it has ended its agreement with PMI and as long as it rejects further partnership agreements with tobacco companies.

Their entire approach to this serious subject is laughable. What the WHO really wants – and what they have always wanted – is to get all the nations of the world to sign on to a mandatory treaty of sorts where they will define the standards and be able to compel compliance. And part of those standards are – surprise, surprise, surprise – a global tax on the sale of the tobacco they allegedly want to get rid of, with the money going to the WHO. My, that’s terribly convenient, don’t you think?

Smuggling of tobacco problems is absolutely a problem. We’ve discussed it here on more occasions than I can count as it applies to interstate trafficking in the United States. But it’s also reported to be a serious issue overseas, where terrorists are smuggling the highly profitable product and providing funding for some of the worst monsters in the world. But why is smuggling so profitable? Because the sales price of the product is driven sky high by taxes. So the WHO is left in the rather awkward position of claiming to want to eliminate trafficking while being one of the planet’s biggest cheerleaders for policies which drive the trafficking in the first place.

In the end it all comes down to money, power and control. And the United States should have nothing to do with any global treaties, agreements or any other related nonsense that these people cook up.