The three-day symposium began under the auspices of H E Sayyid Saud bin Hilal al Busaidi, Minister of State and Governor of Muscat, in the presence of H E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obaid al Saeedi, Minister of Health and undersecretaries. Professor Andrew D Mitchell, director, Global Trade Programme, Institute of International Law and Humanities, said, “As a result of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Oman and the US, tariffs on tobacco products imported from the US will be lifted in 2018.
Lower prices could lead to increase in consumption. The various branches of the Omani government could then introduce regulatory measures consistent with FTA and World Health Organization rules, to tackle the issue.
“If there are coordination gaps between branches of the Omani government, they will be taken advantage of by the tobacco industry.”
The symposium aims at familiarising the participants with the commitment of the GCC to implement the tobacco control policies.
It will include discussions on the challenges faced by GCC to reduce tobacco consumption and its relation on international trade, the impact of trade liberalisation on global tobacco pandemic, and the components of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco products.
H E Dr Mohammed bin Saif al Hosni, Undersecretary for health affairs in MoH and chairperson of NCTC said, “This is for the first time that we are discussing the relation of trade and tobacco control as well as the commitment of GCC states to the WHO convention on Tobacco control which was approved by the sultanate in accordance to the Royal Decree 20/ 2005.”
Professor Tawfik bin Ahmed Khoja, director general of the executive board of the GCC Health Ministers’ Council said the sultanate is playing a remarkable role to reduce tobacco consumption as part of its commitment to the international guidelines.
The symposium has an exhibition which is seeing participation of MoH, the executive board of the GCC Health Ministers’ Council and the Public Authority for Consumer Protection.
Trade issues in the context of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), WTO and its related resources, and the role of the Free Trade Agreements on tobacco control will also be discussed.
The symposium will highlight the WHO-FCTC, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade of 1994 and its effects on tobacco control.