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Impact assessment of the WHO FCTC over its first decade: methodology of the expert group
  1. Geoffrey T Fong1,2,3,
  2. Janet Chung-Hall1,
  3. Lorraine Craig1
  4. for the WHO FCTC Impact Assessment Expert Group
    1. 1 Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
    2. 2 School of Public Health and Health Systems, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
    3. 3 Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    1. Correspondence to Professor Geoffrey T Fong, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo ON N2L 3G1, Canada; gfong{at}


    Background At its sixth meeting (Moscow, November 2014), the Conference of the Parties (COP) adopted decision FCTC/COP6(13) that called for an impact assessment to ‘examine the impact of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on the implementation of tobacco control measures and on the effectiveness of its implementation’ after its first 10 years. An independent expert group (EG) was established to conduct the impact assessment, and report their findings at COP7 (Delhi, November 2016). This article describes the methodology used by the EG to conduct the first comprehensive multi-method assessment of the possible causal impact of the FCTC on global tobacco control over the past decade.

    Methods The EG developed and followed a four-stage process model to conduct the impact assessment: (1) desk review of literature on FCTC impact; (2) collection and analysis of interview data from 12 country missions; (3) data synthesis and interpretation; and (4) preparation of a final report.

    Conclusions The EG developed and engaged in a transparent and systematic process to conduct the FCTC impact assessment. The methods employed were rigorous, and explicitly guided by concerns about the difficulty of ascribing cause-and-effect relations. The EG’s report and supporting documents represent important sources of the positive impact of the Convention over its first decade. As development of the FCTC increasingly shifts to mechanisms for accelerating global implementation, the EG’s process model can be used as a methodology to assist Parties in carrying out their own assessments of the impact of the Treaty.

    • WHO FCTC
    • impact assessment
    • research design

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    • Contributors JC-H led the writing of the manuscript, GTF designed Figure 1 and wrote the document found in the online supplementary file 1, LC and GTF contributed to revisions of the manuscript. All authors have read and approved of the final manuscript.

    • Funding This paper was supported by grants from Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (FDN-148477). Geoffrey T. Fong was supported by a Senior Investigator Grant from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

    • Disclaimer The Impact Assessment Expert Group was independent of both the WHO and the FCTC Secretariat in the preparation of its report and of this article. GF received honorarium from the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC for his work as member of the impact assessment expert group.

    • Competing interests GTF has served as an expert witness on behalf of governments in litigation involving the tobacco industry.

    • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

    • Collaborators Pekka Puska (Chair), National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland Mike Daube (Vice-Chair), Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia Geoffrey T. Fong (Technical Coordinator), University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Sudhir Gupta, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, India Thomas F. McInerney, Treaty Effectiveness Initiative, Rome, Italy Corne van Walbeek, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa Ghazi Zaatari, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon

    • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. The author affiliations have been amended. The original release of this article also stated incorrectly that the authors were WHO staff members. In fact, the Impact Assessment Expert Group was independent of both the WHO and the FCTC Secretariat in the preparation of its report and of this article.

    • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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