"Eradicating illicit trade in tobacco products constitutes a clear win-win situation for governments and their people," Haik Nikogosian, leader of the U.N. World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, said in a release.
The new protocol establishes what actions "constitute unlawful conduct and sets out related enforcement and international cooperation measures, such as licensing, information-sharing and mutual legal assistance that will help counteract and eventually eliminate illicit trade," Nikogosian said during a Conference of the Parties to World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Seoul, where the treaty was adopted.
World Health Organization officials said tobacco use is responsible for 5 million, or 12 percent, of all deaths of adults above the age of 30 globally each year, the equivalent to one death every six seconds.
The new protocol establishes rules for combating illegal trade through controlling the supply chain and by international cooperation. It commits countries to establishing a global track-and-trace system to reduce the illicit trade of tobacco products, the U.N. agency said.
"The elimination of all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products, including smuggling and illegal manufacturing, is an essential component of tobacco control," says Ambassador Ricardo Varela, president of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO's tobacco control unit. "In adopting this new protocol today by consensus, countries have reiterated their historic commitment towards protecting the health of their citizens, particularly the young and vulnerable."