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Publish Date:

February 6, 2024

Lesego Mateme from Protect our Next partner organisation the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum (SATFYF) is in Panama for the Tenth Conference of the Parties (COP10) under the banner of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) from February 5 – 10, 2024. He is a co-author of the COP10 message below.

As global youth advocates and representatives of the Global Youth Voices (GYV), a movement of over 30 global, regional, and local youth organizations covering more than 130 countries, we find it humbling to see our calls recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and to learn that our statement will be brought to the Tenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Panama. This conference marks a crucial moment where our concerns can be heard and acted upon by global leaders.


For a long time, our collective voice echoed shared concerns regarding the pervasive tactics employed by the tobacco industry. The industry has been enticing our generation with so-called “innovations” like biodegradable filters as well as flavored vaping and tobacco products. These strategies have been widely and maliciously propagated through digital and entertainment media, including sports advertising. More so, the tobacco industry downplays the harms of these emerging tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, mislabeling them as “harm reduction” strategies. This deceptive tactic has lured a whole new generation into a lifelong addiction, exposing us to irreversible harm.


Our organizations have been building their capacity with the help of Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control resources and support since 2020, which proved instrumental in navigating towards a future that is free from tobacco industry interference. We have gone beyond merely demanding regulations and embarked on a path to secure justice for ourselves and for the next generation. The power to demand impactful solutions to curb industry manipulation is the wind beneath our wings throughout this impactful movement.

We are calling on the industry to stop its deception and manipulation, and to disassociate from misleading terms like “harm reduction,” “wellness,” “sustainability,” and “producer responsibility.” We demand the industry to bear full financial responsibility for the myriad of harms it inflicts, including the environmental damage caused by cigarette butts. We demand specific solutions to hold the tobacco industry accountable, including compensation mechanisms, financial guarantees, and various penalties, fees, or taxes.


As the COP10 progresses in Panama, we reiterate our key calls to the Parties and delegates:

Being the target of the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing tactics, we fervently advocate for comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) across all media, including digital platforms.

Emerging tobacco products should be viewed as threats to our generation. We advocate for a ban on all recreational addictive products, or where bans are proven ineffective, we support robust regulatory measures.

Forward-looking tobacco control measures should be protected against industry interference and deception, including an immediate ban on cigarette filters and disposable vapes.

Implementation of liability measures should be strengthened; the present and future generations should be able to hold the tobacco industry accountable for past, present, and future harms, including financial consequences through levies, compensation mechanisms, and effective sanctions.


Parties to the COP10 must act decisively, prioritize our future, and stand firm against the tobacco industry’s deceptive manoeuvres. Together, let us shape a future where the -being of our global youth takes precedence over the tobacco industry’s commercial and vested interests.

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