The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Travel cuts threaten poor countries with more tobacco exposure


The world’s poorest countries could face more exposure to unrestricted tobacco use and promotion if proposed funding cuts within the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) go ahead.

The FCTC is considering cutting its funding for delegates from poorer countries to attend international meetings. These cuts (supported by the EU, Canada and Australia) will threaten the participation of over 80 countries in future FCTC meetings like the Conference of the Parties (COPs).

 

The fifth session of the COP is currently underway in Seoul, South Korea. COPs are the main forum for tackling smoking-related diseases and are attended by policy makers and health officials from around the world.

If the cuts go ahead poorer countries could not attend such meetings, and this could leave millions in the developing world, where the number of smoking deaths is rising, more vulnerable to smoking-related diseases, according to a study led by the University of Edinburgh.

As mentioned in a University of Edinburgh press release, the study (published in the journal Tobacco Control) found that despite bearing the greatest burden of tobacco-related deaths, developing countries are already under-represented in global governance of tobacco control. In all but one of the FCTC meetings, Europe has provided the most delegates.

High income countries such as European nations are currently experiencing a nine per cent decline in smoking deaths each year. In low and middle income countries, however, smoking deaths are expected to double from 3.4 million in 2002 to 6.8 million by 2030.

Professor Jeff Collin of the University of Edinburgh, who led the study and is attending the COP in Seoul, said in the press release: “While the temptation to cut back on travel costs is understandable, in this context it seems profoundly misguided. The cost of supporting developing countries’ participation in the FCTC is tiny compared with the catastrophic impacts of tobacco in these countries. The establishment of an appropriate travel policy is central to ensuring an FCTC that is fit for purpose, and must be prioritised within efforts to mobilise resources.”

While annual deaths attributable to tobacco exceed those from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, development assistance for those three diseases is 300 times greater than the total for tobacco control.

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