The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

South African appeal court cites FCTC


Rally COP3 SAfrica 2008A rally at the 2008 meeting of the FCTC Parties, in South Africa.South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal cited the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in its verdict last week that upheld a ban on tobacco advertising.

'In relation to advertising, the Framework Convention imposes clear obligations on State parties .... I do not think it was open to the Minister and the legislature to ignore the Framework Convention when considering what steps to take to deal with the risks posed by tobacco use', said the judgement.

It continued: '... in determining whether or not to impose a ban on advertising and promotion of tobacco products the Minister would have been obliged to have regard to the Framework Convention... This Court is therefore obliged, under the Constitution, to give weight to it in determining the question of justification or the limitation of the right to freedom of speech'.

In its decision the court rejected an appeal by British American Tobacco (BAT) against a ban on one-to-one communications with consenting adult consumers of tobacco products, which is contained in the South African Government's 2008 amendment of the tobacco control laws.

Article 13 of the FCTC calls for a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

The convention sets out other specific steps for governments addressing tobacco use, including to:

  • Adopt tax and price measures to reduce tobacco consumption;
  • Create smoke-free work and public spaces;
  • Put prominent health warnings on tobacco packages, and prohibit misleading packaging and labelling, and
  • Combat illicit trade in tobacco products.

The FCTC now has 175 Parties, including the European Union. Those countries account for nearly 90 percent of the world's population.

The Convention is being cited by courts worldwide, according to the International Legal Consortium of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which runs the website Tobacco Control Laws - Litigation.

In some instances, the courts have relied on the FCTC in their rationales for upholding a tobacco control law (e.g., South Africa, Colombia ). In other examples, courts have cited the FCTC, but not ruled in favour of public health (e.g., Philippines). And, yet in other instances, courts simply may have cited to a provision in the FCTC because it was relied upon in briefs filed by the parties.

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