The Global Tobacco Epidemic and the Law
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The Global Tobacco Epidemic and the Law

Edited by Andrew D. Mitchell and Tania Voon

Tobacco use represents a critical global health challenge. The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco kills nearly 6 million people a year, with the toll expected to rise to 8 million annually over the next two decades. Written by health and legal experts from institutions around the globe, The Global Tobacco Epidemic and the Law examines the key areas of domestic and international law affecting the regulation of tobacco.
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Chapter 5: The European Anti-Fraud Office and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

Neil Boister


Over the last ten years the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has become a significant actor in the global suppression of tobacco smuggling. Its activities reached fruition with the adoption in November 2012, by the fifth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), of a Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (Illicit Trade Protocol or Protocol). The Illicit Trade Protocol supplements and fleshes out the general obligations to reduce the illicit trade in tobacco products contained in article 15 of the WHO FCTC. This chapter explores the role that OLAF has played in the development of the Illicit Trade Protocol. It examines OLAF’s mandate and how OLAF became involved in the negotiation of the Illicit Trade Protocol. It analyses the extent to which OLAF used the European Commission’s (Commission) agreements with major tobacco manufacturing companies as a model for the substance of the Protocol. Finally, the chapter examines whether OLAF has achieved its goals in the negotiation of the Protocol, and draws some conclusions about OLAF’s role as a norm entrepreneur and about the risks inherent in setting up a system that establishes the tobacco manufacturing industry’s role as a regulatory partner. OLAF’s work against tobacco smuggling arises out of its mandate to protect the financial interests of the European Union (EU). OLAF is an organisational unit of the Commission – a general directorate – but enjoys functional investigative independence.

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