WHO Tobacco Laboratory Network (TobLabNet)
A global tobacco testing laboratory network is crucial in advancing tobacco control. Combining testing and research at the global level is a new approach to match the tobacco industry’s expert product testing capabilities. With this in mind, a preliminary meeting was held in Bethesda, Maryland on 25-26 March 2004, to address network laboratory capacities for the study of tobacco products at the international level and to initiate discussions on the guidelines needed for contents and emissions testing as described in Article 9 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the development of laboratory methods, standards, expertise, and capacity on tobacco products testing and research.
The establishment of a global laboratory network was further elaborated during the first meeting of the WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg) in Montebello, Canada on 26-28 October 2004. In Montebello, core group members from the Bethesda meeting discussed the possibility of convening the first official meeting in Europe in order to encourage European participation in this Network. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) of The Netherlands agreed to co-host this first meeting in The Hague on 28-29 April 2005. In a separate meeting in Greece in November 2004, the European Network of Government Laboratories on Tobacco and Tobacco Products (GoToLab) decided to co-host (along with RIVM) The Hague meeting.
It was, thus, during the April 2005 meeting in The Hague that the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) established the WHO Tobacco Laboratory Network (TobLabNet), in line with the aims and objectives of the WHO FCTC tobacco product regulation provisions and following the recommendations of the WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg). A total of 25 laboratories from 20 countries representing all 6 WHO regions sent delegates to the meeting. The participants included delegates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US National Cancer Institute, which are both founding members of TobLabNet.