WHO tobacco conference bans public from meetings, moves forward on taxes

As we reported at the beginning of the month, the United States is sitting out the World Health Organization’s (WHO) conference in Moscow where they will discuss massive new taxes on tobacco products – and potentially e-cigarettes as well – in all nations who have signed on to their treaty. The conference has now kicked off, and in one of their first official acts the group demonstrated just what sort of transparency we should expect from the WHO. As reported by Drew Johnson.

Well, what could possibly go wrong now?

As I previously noted, the United States is not a signatory to the treaty, so they can’t impose a tax here. But such a move will affect the business (and jobs) of US manufacturers who see a decrease in their export market.

Still, it’s rather amazing to see the number of countries (particularly in the EU and surrounding regions) who are signing on to this, given the number of smokers they have in their home nations and how it will affect their pocketbooks. The United States actually has a fairly low rate of tobacco use – around 16% – compared to other developed nations. When you look at the top ten list, you’ll see some of the signatories on this pending deal. They include Slovenia, Ukraine, Russia (at number four), Greece (number three), and Serbia at the top of the list with a 33% smoking rate.

As a side note, Canada has joined the US in boycotting the conference. Australia was “seeking advice” on whether or not to boycott the meeting as recently as last week (probably because they’re hosting the G20 next month and Putin is supposed to be there) but their final decision seems to have been to attend.

As a final bit of spice to the story, you might be interested in know the salaries being drawn by the honchos of this particular shindig.

– FCTC Convention Secretariat earns $402,000 USD per year (tax free)
– Overall FCTC executive staff costs are $10,373,320 USD (not including administrative costs)
– The average FCTC executive salary is $216,110 USD per year (tax free) (24 total positions)

Once again… good work if you can get it.