Civil society as a catalyst for the ratification and implementation of the Protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products – an example from Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Association PROI, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Publication date: 2023-10-08
Corresponding author
Samir Ibisevic   

Association PROI, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2023;9(Supplement 2):A66
The illicit trade in tobacco products poses significant public health and economic challenges globally. Bosnia and Herzegovina facing a complex political landscape, which exacerbates such challenges. Recognizing the importance of addressing this issue in line with the EU acquis, PROI works on creating a sustainable partnership between government and civil society organizations (CSOs) and enhancing social and economic reforms particularly those related to the Protocol.

This presentation intends to highlight the unprecedented and unique role played by NGO PROI, which stands as a unique case in the Balkans region. The aim is to illustrate PROI's significant collaborative initiatives with the government and international bodies, specifically targeted at combating the illicit trade in tobacco products. Additionally, this presentation seeks to provide an in-depth overview of the level of initiatives undertaken to combat illicit trade in Bosnia and Herzegovina, setting an example for the broader region.

Material and Methods:
In preparation for this presentation, a qualitative analysis was conducted, involving policy documents, media reports, and non-structured interviews with key stakeholders from the government, CSOs, and international partners engaged in tobacco control. Strategic approaches and advocacy efforts employed by civil society to drive the process of ratification and implementation are also investigated.

Civil society played a pivotal role in facilitating the ratification of the Protocol. Their advocacy, public awareness campaigns, and strategic engagement with policymakers and the public resulted in increased support for the protocol's implementation. Evidence suggests that civil society influence was a key driver in the successful enactment of comprehensive tobacco control measures.

The successful work of the Association PROI underscores the influential role of CSOs in advancing tobacco control policy in Bosnia, but also in the Balkans region. The recent project demonstrates how cooperation between government, CSOs, and international bodies can contribute to the ratification and implementation of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. It also exemplifies the potential for civil society to drive reform, improve accountability and transparency, and enhance the rule of law, even in complex political environments.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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