WHO establishes TobLabNet
The WHO Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI), in furtherance of the aims and objectives of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control tobacco product regulation provisions and following the recommendations of the WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg), convened the first meeting of the WHO Tobacco Laboratory Network (TobLabNet) at The Hague, Netherlands, 28-29 April 2005. The meeting was co-hosted by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and the European Network of Government Laboratories on Tobacco and Tobacco Products. Of the 42 participants representing 22 countries, 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 founding members of TobLabNet. The primary output of the meeting is the formal establishment of WHO TobLabNet -- a global network of government, university, and independent laboratories to strengthen national and regional capacity for the testing and research of the contents and emissions of tobacco products pursuant to Article 9 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. TFI is the coordinating body and secretariat for the programmes and activities of the network. Once capacity is established, TobLabNet will be positioned as a counter-balance to the tobacco industry's decades-long predominance in the areas of tobacco testing, research, and international methods development.
Testing and measuring tobacco products at the national or regional level are essential to monitor compliance of tobacco manufacturers of their contents and emissions testing and disclosure obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In addition, regulators would want to have the capacity to test and measure the contents and emissions of tobacco products in order to propose tobacco content and emissions regulations in the future. Furthermore, capacity for testing and research is one of the factors needed to ensure that manufacturers package and label their products in a manner that does not mislead consumers about the health risks of tobacco products.
The need for creating regional and global capacity for tobacco testing and research has been articulated by several WHO Member States and WHO collaborating agencies. In recognition of this growing concern, WHO Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US National Cancer Institute, and members of the WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg) met in March 2004 in Bethesda, Maryland. Recommendations from this meeting were further discussed during the TobReg meeting in October 2004 in Montebello, Canada. For the foregoing reasons laid out above, the participants at the Montebello meeting further reiterated the need to establish a global network of tobacco testing and research laboratories. Henceforth, The Hague meeting was the critical transition from vision to reality.
At the end of the meeting at The Hague, the name of the global network of government, university, and independent laboratories was officially changed to the WHO Tobacco Laboratory Network (TobLabNet), from the initial name of the International Network on Tobacco Testing and Research for Regulation (INTTARR).
Future Activities of the WHO TobLabNet:
- Assess capabilities of each member by survey/survey follow-ups and/or visits and make inventory.
- Conduct collaborative study for tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide (TNCO) in mainstream smoke and nicotine in smokeless tobacco.
- Initiate a quality management programme that will lead to accreditation in the future.
- Develop and initiate training programmes and capacity building where needed.
- Establish communication channels for network members:
Secure web site and livelink server for information exchange.
Expert panel for technical assistance and advice.
- Develop a compendium of expanded testing methods for tobacco product contents and emissions.
- Develop additional methods and create a validation programme for testing methods for tobacco products and tobacco smoke other than tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide (TNCO).
- Develop and validate testing methods for tobacco products other than cigarettes.
- Participate in international standardization activities.
- Define periodic meetings for scientific research, exchange of information and identify research priorities/agendas.
- Exchange information with policy makers and regulators.
For further information on how a laboratory could join the network, please contact Ms Gemma Vestal at firstname.lastname@example.org