People have died from tobacco-related diseases since the opening of the first FCTC working group on 28 October 1999.
Statement of Mary Assunta, Chair, Framework Convention Alliance
Civil society has fought hard and long for this historic day when the WHO FCTC becomes international law. The Framework Convention Alliance is pleased that the countdown to implement stringent tobacco control measures outlined in the treaty is on.
The FCA celebrates this entry into force with the governments who have ratified the treaty and have prevailed against the lobby from the tobacco industry, particularly the transnational tobacco companies, who sought to derail it.
The biggest beneficiaries of the FCTC are the many low income and developing countries from the Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America who form the bulk of the 57 nations who ratified the treaty. They seized the opportunity to ratify early and are now positioned to address the tobacco pandemic confronting them.
The FCA urges governments who have signed but not ratified the treaty to do so urgently so that they are not left behind. The days of talking are over. It is time for action and to apply political will to operationalize the treaty nationally.
This international law is a powerful tool to dismiss dubious self-regulation and guidelines of the transnational tobacco companies which for many years served to facilitate double standards in many countries. However the FCA warns governments that the devil is in the details.
Governments should elect to see this international law as the minimum standards. This means pass legislations comprehensively banning all forms of advertising and sponsorship activities by tobacco companies, applying graphic and specific health warnings on 50% of packs and banning smoking in all public and work places. This has to be done without delay the passing of legislation and without any compromise with the tobacco industry.
A new sense of vigilance is required as the tobacco industry has been reinventing itself through corporate social responsibility, making donations to the Tsunami disaster, converting its mass advertising to interpersonal communications and communicating via new electronic technologies.
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