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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Honorary Titles

Publication details for Dr Megan Wainwright

Russell, A., Wainwright, M. & Tilson, M. (2018). Means and ENDS – e-cigarettes, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and global health diplomacy in action. Global Public Health 13(1): 83-98.

Author(s) from Durham


E-cigarettes are a new and disruptive element in global health diplomacy (GHD) and policy-making. This is an ethnographic account of how e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) were tackled at the 6th Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It demonstrates how uncertainty about ENDS and differences of opinion are currently so great that ‘agreeing to disagree’ as a consensus position and ‘strategic use of time’ were the principles that ensured effective GHD in this case. Observers representing accredited non-governmental organisations were active in briefing and lobbying country delegates not to spend too much time debating an issue for which insufficient evidence exists, and for which countries were unlikely to reach a consensus on a specific regulatory approach or universally applicable regulatory measures. Equally, the work of Costa Rica in preparing and re-negotiating the draft decision, and the work of the relevant Committee Chair in managing the discussion, contributed to effectively reining in lengthy statements from Parties and focusing on points of consensus. As well as summarising the debate itself and analysing the issues surrounding it, this account offers an example of GHD working effectively in a situation of epistemic uncertainty.