1 billion deaths: time to get serious

03 Jun 2014

For instance, the 2011 United Nations summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) called for accelerated implementation of the FCTC. Since then, the World Health Assembly adopted the Global Action Plan on NCDs, which echoes that call. 

But FCTC implementation in the 10 years since the treaty’s adoption “has been sporadic”, notes Laurent. The causes include uncoordinated efforts within governments (absent a whole-of-government approach), insufficient political will and inadequate resources, all of which are deeply intertwined, he argues. 

Tobacco industry attacks

The other main challenge to FCTC implementation is the unceasing efforts of the tobacco industry to undermine tobacco control. While these are well documented at the national level, the industry is now turning increasingly to international trade and investment law to challenge countries’ tobacco control measures.

Examples include Philip Morris International challenging Uruguay’s laws on graphic health warnings and restrictions on cigarette packs. Excluding tobacco control from trade and investment agreements is essential, writes Laurent. 

Another opportunity to advance FCTC implementation is the renewal of the global development goals. The Millennium Development Goals will be replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, and these new global priorities must not omit the FCTC, as the MDGs did.

When governments, and intergovernmental forums, finally start taking the FCTC commitment seriously, progress will be made, concludes Laurent. 

“If governments are willing to exempt tobacco out of trade agreements, address the tobacco epidemic as a key development priority in the post-2015 development agenda, and accelerate the implementation of the FCTC, it is very likely that we can move the tipping point in favour of health and save hundreds of millions of lives.”

Want to get involved?

Register for the UN civil society hearing on the upcoming NCD Review (10-11 July 2014).





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