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Smoking prevention in action: the Smoke Free Partnership Coalition [SFP OPG] [671362] - Operating Grant
Project abstract

Tobacco consumption is the single largest avoidable health risk in the EU. Having long acknowledged this threat, the EU was instrumental in designing and achieving consensus on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC entered into force in 2005 and was ratified by the EU and its Member States. The Smoke Free Partnership (SFP) is the leading NGO in the EU advocating for FCTC implementation. Since its creation, SFP spearheaded high-profile campaigns across Europe to introduce effective and evidence-based smoking prevention measures. In 2014, SFP formalised its working partnerships by creating the Smoke Free Partnership Coalition. The overarching strategic goal of this proposal is to improve the health of EU citizens and reduce health inequalities by promoting smoking prevention at EU and Member State level with a special focus on young people. During this three year period, SFP set four strategic objectives: 1. Promote and support smoking prevention at EU and national level through the development of advocacy strategies that deliver specific EU tobacco control policies 2. Promote and support smoking prevention at international, European and national level through the development and implementation of the FCTC, its protocols and guidelines 3. Mobilise and strengthen the capacity of European and national civil society to complement, support and add value to the policies of the EU and of the Member States4. Strengthen SFP’s institutional capacity to enable it to meet its goal and objectivesThis proposal shows how the SFP Coalition will contribute to Objective 1 of the Health Programme as our work directly relates to health promotion, disease prevention and the fostering of supportive environments for healthy lifestyles. The outcomes of this proposal will complement, support and add value to EU and Member State policies which aim to improve the health of EU citizens and reduce health inequalities.

Summary of context, overal objectives, strategic, relevance and contribution of the action

The SFP Coalition’s Annual Work Programme for 2015 is based on the overall multiannual work programme 2015-2017. The first year of the multiannual plan will aim to set the foundation for the policy work in the coming years, while delivering specific activities and achieving concrete deliverables.

As set out in the FPA proposal, the overarching goal of the SFP Coalition’s multiannual work programme is to improve the health of EU citizens and reduce health inequalities by promoting smoking prevention at EU and Member State level with a special focus on young people.
During this three year period 2015-2017, SFP set four strategic objectives:
1. Promote and support smoking prevention at EU and national level through the development of advocacy strategies that deliver specific EU tobacco control policies
2. Promote and support smoking prevention at international, European and national level through the development and implementation of the FCTC, its protocols and guidelines
3. Mobilise and strengthen the capacity of European and national civil society to complement, support and add value to the policies of the EU and of the Member States
4. Strengthen SFP’s institutional capacity to enable it to meet its goal and objectives

The Smoke Free Partnership’s (SFP) overall mission is the effective implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). SFP works with decision makers to ensure that tobacco control receives adequate political attention at EU level and to promote tobacco control information and policy research at EU and national level, in collaboration with other EU health organisations and tobacco control networks. The SFP coalition’s mission is to promote and coordinate tobacco control advocacy on priority policy areas of the FCTC at EU level and to support civil society organisations at national level in implementing tobacco control advocacy campaigns.

The work plan aims to contribute to the first objective of the Third Health Programme which aims to support and complement Member States' efforts by promoting health, preventing diseases, and fostering supportive environments for healthy lifestyles.

Methods and means

SFP is responsible for Network coordination, technical support and budgetary management. SFP has experience in managing large European projects and, as previously explained, provided a forum for European NGOs working on smoking prevention in the form of workshops so as to establish common ground and purpose among its partners, providing a regular exchange of information, seeking co-operation with appropriate international agencies and promoting the implementation of evidence based tobacco control policies.

SFP’s work methods are based on the organisation’s values and work principles: firstly on the FCTC, which recognises that the tobacco pandemic is nurtured by a global industry which transcends national and regional boundaries, and requires a coordinated response between countries and with other regions in the world, and secondly on partnerships, as we recognise the need to work with others and to draw on a wide range of views and expertise to achieve our aims and objectives. All our activities are evidence based: our work and policy positions are independent and based on our critical review of published, peer-reviewed evidence and feedback from experts and partner organisations. Our activities are also based on efficiency and effectiveness: we deliver agreed objectives and outputs, and continually seek to improve on processes and make the best use of resources. Finally we aim to remain flexible and innovative: we work both proactively to shape the agendas of the European institutions as well as reactively to respond to the needs and priorities at European level, taking into account the global picture. The specific methods are listed below:

Monitoring of publicly available information, including news, institutional websites, tobacco industry websites and documents
Maintain relationships and contacts with key international experts in tobacco regulation so as to have access to the latest scientific evidence
Create and maintain a database of relevant key stakeholders and contacts
Maintain contact with EU and national officials to understand developments and assess policy positions, needs for information, and understanding of issues.
Monitor and expose tobacco industry arguments and tactics and develop evidence-based rebuttals
Exchange information and updates with SFP Coalition partners on a regular basis
Develop or commission legal briefings and/or case-law summaries
Develop and disseminate policy papers and technical assistance documents for policy makers and NGOs
Raise awareness of tobacco control issues among EU and national policy makers through mailings, events, publications and the SFP website
Identify and ensure dissemination of experience and best practice among the SFP Coalition, and match advocacy expertise with needs among Coalition partners
Provide advocacy information, training and tools to SFP Coalition partners
Identify and retain appropriate staff
Regular and annual reporting of activities
Apply for additional core and project funding
Representation and promotion in European and international contexts
Develop and implement a communications strategy and plan
Develop and implement staff evaluation and training strategy
Develop lists of suppliers for utilities / ongoing tech and web support
Update strategic plan and develop annual work plan
Review resources and needs annually
Regular updates to SFP Board

Work performed during the reporting period

WP1: TPD implementation
1. SFP monitored developments related TPD implementation and litigation including with respect to Article 24 measures (plain packaging and POS display bans) at national level.
2. SFP prepared an advocacy briefing on the TPD implementation to inform the SFP Coalition partners’ priority-setting in relation to TPD measures, depending on the status of transposition in their country and eventually help them build policy and (to some extent) legal arguments for the implementation of labelling or sales restrictions going further than the TPD in their country.
3. SFP provided technical assistance to policy makers at national level regarding the implementation of the TPD and the importance of measures such as including standardised packaging and point-of-sale display bans which can be implemented at national level.

WP2 : smoke free policies
1. SFP launched its Smokefree Map (FCTC Article 8). This online tool details the smokefree policies of all EU Member States as well as four close European neighbours. A full report of the launch event is available at www.smokefreepartnership.eu
2. SFP supported Coalition partners by sending co-signed letters from the SFP Coalition national authorities calling for the strengthening of smoke-free policies.

WP3 : tax and illicit trade
1. SFP worked with Coalition partners to promote the national ratification and implementation of the WHO Illicit Trade Protocol.
2. SFP has worked with experts to establish the key lines for a draft civil society position on the revision of the TTD. Since the implementation report and the consultation along with any follow up by the European commission have been postponed to 2016-7, the work remains ongoing
3. The SFP has prepared an advocacy briefing on the Illicit Trade Protocol to share with Coalition partners and with policy makers at national and EU level.
4. SFP has drafted and coordinated a joint SFP coalition response to the Commission consultation on a new tracking and tracing system for tobacco products arising from Article 15 of the TPD. The submission was sent in July 2015.
5. SFP organised a two-day workshop in Leuven, Belgium on September 30th and October 1st 2015, titled “Taxation and illicit Trade in Tobacco Products: What next at EU level?” The conference was attended by 77 participants, including government representatives from eleven countries, the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament and the WHO as well as leading academics and representatives of European tobacco control NGOs from a range of European countries. The Leuven workshop resulted in two reports:
-A detailed conference report (a public document) was published, including full summaries of all presentations and interventions as well as the latest evidence on the topics of taxation and illicit trade. The report will complement the training provided to NGOs at the conference and will serve as a reference document for the key priorities and arguments of civil society in discussions about tobacco taxation and illicit trade.
- The Coalition meeting and priority setting report (internal coalition document) was also provided to all Coalition partners. The report summarizes the agreed priorities and distribution of advocacy activities in order to have the most impact.
6. The Factsheet about the Agreement between the EU and Philip Morris International identifying key facts and questions arising out of the negotiations to renew the 2004 PMI Agreement was launched in the European Parliament during the World No Tobacco Day Reception in the European Parliament on the theme of illicit tobacco trade.

WP4 : Article 5.3
1. SFP started organising a high-level conference on article 5.3 by identifying two of the co-hosts, agreeing on a date, working with the main host (MEP Pargneaux) to identify and book a meeting room, preparing the initial catering booking, developing a concept paper, agreeing on the main lines of

The main output achieved so far and their potential impact and use by target group (including benefits)

List of all published material

(WP1) Operational objective 1: TPD implementation
• SFP sent official letters co-signed by the SFP Coalition partners to Members of the French National Assembly regarding the adoption of plain packaging.
• SFP disseminated to its Coalition partners an Advocacy briefing focusing on the TPD implementation.

(WP2) Operational objective 3: smokefree policies
• At its event on 14 April 2015, SFP launched its Smokefree Map (FCTC Article 8), an online tool detailing the smokefree policies of all EU Member States as well as four close European neighbours. The updated Smokefree map can be found published on the SFP website http://www.smokefreepartnership.eu/map/index.html
• SFP disseminated a press release prior to the event which can be found published on its website http://www.smokefreepartnership.eu/news/press-release-smokefree-policies-europe-are-we-there-yet-new-sfp-policy-map-answers-no
• SFP also disseminated an event report to the seminar participants which is published on its website together with event photos and speakers’ presentations http://www.smokefreepartnership.eu/sites/sfp.tttp.eu/files/Event%20Report.pdf
• SFP and its Coalition also issued a press release criticising the Portuguese government’s decision to delay the introduction of stronger smokefree legislation until 2018. http://www.smokefreepartnership.eu/news/press-release-european-health-ngos-dismayed-new-smoke-free-proposal-portugal
• SFP Coalition letters to national policy makers:

(WP3) Operational objective 4: tax and illicit trade
• During a World No Tobacco Day Reception at the European Parliament focusing on illicit tobacco trade, SFP launched a Factsheet about the Agreement between the EU and Philip Morris International identifying key facts and questions arising out of the current negotiations to renew the 2004 PMI Agreement.
o SFP disseminated a press release which can be found on its website http://www.smokefreepartnership.eu/documents/joint-press-release-world-no-tobacco-day-2015
• SFP organised a two-day workshop in Leuven, Belgium on September 30th and October 1st 2015, titled “Taxation and illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and as a follow up produced and disseminated a conference report to the participants SFP received feedback through an online evaluation it carried out after the conference. The results of the evaluation are included in the conference report http://www.smokefreepartnership.eu/sites/sfp.tttp.eu/files/SFP_Conference%20report%20Leuven_WEB.pdf
• SFP provided its Coalition partners with a Briefing on the current status and the needed advocacy activities at national level and towards the European Parliament in order to promote the ratification of the Protocol by the EU and Member States. The document was only disseminated to the SFP Coalition partners via email
• SFP sent letters to policy makers regarding the ratification of the International Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (ITP) and on the renewal of EU Legal Agreements with Tobacco Companies.

(WP4) Operational objective 5: Combating tobacco industry interference
• In June 2015 SFP wrote to MEPs providing information on the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC), a front group of the tobacco industry. Similarly, SFP wrote to DG TAXUD Heinz Zourek. The letters were sent in the context of an ITIC meeting organised in Brussels, with MEP and Commission participation having previously been announced. The letters outlined the history of involvement of ITIC with the Tobacco industry as well and information from the WHO to FCTC Parties exposing the links.
• SFP sent official letters in support of the October 2015 recommendation of the European Ombudsman on the transparency of contacts the tobacco industry.
• In October, SFP published a press release regarding the Ombudsman’s recommendations regarding transparency of contacts the tobacco industry http://www.smokefreepartner

Achieved outcomes compared to the expected outcomes

The section above highlights the following:

(WP1) Operational objective 1: TPD implementation
• TPD transposition completed in 5 countries by end of 2015 and under way in the rest of the Member States
• Measures going beyond the TPD (plain packaging/POS display bans) notified/adopted in 4 MS (UK, Ireland, France and Hungary) and under national discussion in 4 more (Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, Norway)
(WP2) Operational objective 3: Smokefree policy
• Smoke-free provisions strengthened in Romania and Austria. Progress towards smokefree laws in Czech Republic. Bulgarian Parliament rejected a weakening of the law.
• Media coverage of SFP Smokefree Map helped increase awareness of smokefree legislation benefits in key EU MS.
(WP3) Operational objective 4: Tax and illicit trade
• Following the Leuven taxation conference and the related outreach to policy makers, there was an increase of the understanding of the economics of taxation among the policy makers in attendance.
• The conference also demonstrated the interest by finance ministries in understanding and addressing tobacco control as well as their willingness to interact with other sectors.
• Following SFP’s actions on illicit trade, there was an increase in the interest in, and understanding of, illicit trade issues by MEPs, which was demonstrated by a series of political groups’ questions to the European Commission on this issue
(WP4) Operational objective 5: Article 5.3 FCTC (combating tobacco industry interference)
• MEP working group on tobacco industry interference reflects increasing awareness of the issue in the EP.
• Ombudsman recommendations and ensuing public debate have – and will continue to - increase awareness at EU level in the long term.
• Adoption of measures to increase transparency of contacts with the tobacco industry in France and the Netherlands
(WP5) Operational objective 6: Tobacco in international trade
• Awareness is increasing on the topic of tobacco industry abuse of international trade rules. Efforts to reduce the risk of such abuse are ongoing in the TTIP negotiations. However, this comes with the caveat that there is a wider public health agenda in international trade and tobacco control is part of that bigger picture.
(WP6) Operational objective 7: Tobacco Research
• The work on this has been limited and it cannot be said that an impact was made on policy makers yet
(WP7-8) Strategic objective 3 (operational objectives 8 – Coalition capacity building and 9 – Coalition governance)
• While this work is mostly NGO-focused, it does aim to reinforce the Coalition’s capacity to reach policy-makers in a long-term, sustainable manner. The main impact on policy makers is achieved across work streams through speaking with one voice and presenting a shared set of asks and policy priorities to policy-makers at EU and national levels. This underlines all policy changes achieved through advocacy.
(WP9-11) Strategic objective 4 (operational objectives 10 – SFP sustainability; 11 – Staff reinforcement and 12 – SFP Operations)
• This work does not have an outward-facing dimension. Through external representation SFP is however able to reach a wide audience which often includes policy-makers, therefore supporting awareness and policy change in a less direct manner.

Dissemination and evaluation activities carried out so far and their major results

SFP material and activities were promoted via media such as the SFP website and social media networks, especially facebook and twitter. Confidential material was distributed via the mailing list directly to the SFP Coalition partners. The strengths of the dissemination activities are that all SFP Coalition partners and in many cases public health organisations work together with one voice at EU and national level. Letters regarding EU or national policy were sent directly to their recipients without further publication but without an expectation of confidentiality.

The main strength of SFP’s dissemination activities is the targeting of communications to achieve its advocacy objective. In this sense, no material is sent out, privately or publicly, without an advocacy objective in mind. This limits the dissemination activities to the necessary and useful, while reducing the amount of unnecessary, excessive or irrelevant communications. This further strengthens the reputation of SPF with its partners and stakeholders, as an organisation that is evidence based, aware of timings, processes and information needs, which in turn delivers advocacy results. Furthermore, SFP’s coordination with the coalition partners on shared advocacy objectives further strengthens the voice of civil society in the policy process by ensuring all NGOs speak with one voice.

SFP contracted the University of Stirling to conduct the independent evaluation. To this aim, Stirling University developed a methodology, was provided with all requested advocacy information, and developed a questionnaire plan and calendar for the first part of the evaluation exercise. The evaluation activities are ongoing. In addition SFP self-evaluated against the indicators part of the work programme. The results indicate that all targets were achieved.