Nations Take Strong Stand on Tobacco Ad Bans and Effective Warning Labels; Must Provide Funds

21 Nov 2008

Dr Winston Abascal (middle) with other public health representatives from Uruguay are delighted their country will host the next international conference of the WHO FCTC.Durban, South Africa – Nations attending the World Health Organisation’s tobacco control treaty conference made critical strides this week in the fight against the tobacco epidemic and in reducing the number of tobacco related deaths worldwide. Attending Parties decided to adopt strong guidelines on a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and it is expected that Parties will also adopt strong guidelines on the use of large, pictorial and effective tobacco warnings.

These measures are part of the world’s first modern-day global health treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which requires parties to adopt a comprehensive range of measures designed to reduce the devastating health, social, environmental and economic impacts of tobacco. While important steps were taken this week to meet that goal, the measures will be impossible to implement unless the proper funding is provided.

“While we congratulate nations on their commitment to tobacco control, there must be funding to implement these proven measures if governments are to have any hope of stemming the growing tide of tobacco related deaths,” said Laurent Huber, Director of the Framework Convention Alliance. “The guidelines will serve as an important tool for governments and advocates working on a ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship and effective warning labels. We urge governments to provide the necessary budget for proper implementation of the treaty, and also to allow for low and middle income countries to receive much needed resources.”

Health warnings are an extremely cost-effective public health intervention and scientific studies have found that prominent health warnings lead to greater awareness of health risks of tobacco use and an increased desire to quit. Additionally, studies have shown that advertising bans reduce tobacco use among people of all income and educational levels, particularly among youth.

The guidelines on packaging and labelling provide detailed recommendations on how to increase the effectiveness of package warnings including using graphic pictures that cover more than 50 percent of the front and back of the package.

The guidelines on both packaging & labelling and advertising, promotion & sponsorship suggest that Parties should make use of the plain packaging of tobacco products.

Additionally, governments agreed to recommend that Uruguay be the location for the fourth session of the Conference of the Parties, in the last quarter of 2010. Uruguay has a proven track record in tobacco control, as the first country in Latin America to go 100 percent smokefree.

“We are honoured to be chosen as conference hosts, and that our commitment to reducing the impact of tobacco on Uruguay’s people has been recognised,” said Dr Winston Abascal, Director of the Tobacco Control Program, Ministry of Health, Uruguay.“The South African government and people were gracious hosts this year, and we hope to make COP 4 as successful.”

Download media release in English [Adobe Acrobat PDF – 61.24 KB]

Read media release in Spanish.


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