People have died from tobacco-related diseases since the opening of the first FCTC working group on 28 October 1999.
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MONTEVIDEO, Nov 15 – A new global report indicates that efforts to combat the global tobacco epidemic are lagging, in spite of strong progress in some countries. The report, Tobacco Watch: Monitoring Countries’ Performance on the Global Treaty, was released today by the Framework Convention Alliance, a coalition of over 350 nongovernmental organisations from over 100 countries.
The report focuses on a few key tobacco control measures required under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first modern-day public health treaty. The release coincides with the Fourth Conference of the Parties to the FCTC, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
“There are reasons to be both concerned and optimistic for the future of the FCTC,” said Laurent Huber, Director of the FCA. “On the plus side, we have seen many countries banning smoking in public places and mandating graphic health warnings on tobacco packages. At the same time, the number of Parties that have failed to implement key treaty provisions shows a general lack of resources dedicated to tobacco control, even among developed countries that should have resources available.”
The FCTC was adopted in 2004, and now has 172 Parties, representing over 87% of the world’s population. The treaty includes measures to reduce tobacco consumption and supply, as well as international cooperation in combating tobacco smuggling and cross-border advertising. FCA’s Tobacco Watch shadows the treaty’s official reporting structure, in which governments periodically report to the WHO on their implementation of FCTC measures. Information from Tobacco Watch is used to applaud successes, highlight failures, and press for stronger tobacco control measures in all countries.
An unexpected finding in the report is causing particular concern among tobacco control advocates. Of the 49 Parties targeted for the report – representing the first countries to ratify the FCTC – only 7 submitted their official implementation reports to the Treaty Secretariat on time (deadlines ranged from February 27 to March 31, 2010). By the time Tobacco Watch went to print at the end of September, 20 Parties had still failed to turn in reports.
Another important finding of the report is that many countries have failed to meet the five-year deadline under the FCTC to institute bans on tobacco marketing. Less than two-thirds of the Parties reporting indicated that they had passed such a ban, and none have implemented all of the recommendations under the guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties.
Bright spots in the report include several countries that have required large, graphic warning labels on cigarette packages, in particular Uruguay, where warnings occupy 80% of the front and back of packages. Other countries which require that warnings cover an average of at least 50% of the front and back of cigarette packs include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Cook Islands, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, New Zealand, Panama, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey.
A number of countries have also banned smoking in virtually all public indoor areas, including New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Solomon Islands, Syria, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. Strong local or state bans are in place for the majority of the populations of Australia, Canada, Germany, Mexico and Vietnam.
Tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of premature death, killing more people each year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. The WHO estimates that without dramatic action, tobacco will kill one billion people this century, mostly in developing countries.
DOWNLOAD: The Tobacco Watch report