25 Feb 2005
Global Tobacco Treaty to Take Effect on February 27th
International Coalition of NGOs Applauds the 57 Countries that have Ratified the WHO FCTC
On February 27, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the international tobacco treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization, will become international law. The FCA applauds the more than 55 countries that have taken a major step forward against the tobacco epidemic, the second major cause of death in the world by ratifying this important treaty. “The treaty is a major step forward in the worldwide battle against the death and disease caused by tobacco. It provides the basic tools for countries to enact comprehensive tobacco control legislation and take on the powerful tobacco industry,” said Mary Asunta, Chair of the FCA.
The FCA urges countries that have not ratified the treaty to do so as soon as possible. Ratification and implementation of the treaty are critical to protecting citizens of the world from the devastating health and economic impacts of tobacco.
The entry into force of the FCTC marks a historic moment for global public health. This groundbreaking, legally binding treaty provides countries basic tools to protect the health of their citizens from the tobacco industry’s deceptions and slick marketing. It requires ratifying nations to adopt policies proven to reduce smoking and save lives such as a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and large, graphic health warning labels that cover at least 30 percent of cigarette packs. The treaty also provides nations with a roadmap for enacting strong, science-based policies in other areas, including protection from secondhand smoke, increased tobacco taxation and measures to combat cigarette smuggling.
This first international public health treaty would not have been achievable without the involvement of civil society. The FCA, an international coalition of Non Governmental organizations in favor a strong and efficient FCTC, is proud of the work done by its more than 200 organizations from around the world in support of this important international health treaty. For a list of members visit the FCA website http://www.fctc.org/ .
According to the World Health Organization, tobacco-related illnesses kill an estimated 4.9 million people per year worldwide. Unless trends are reversed, the worldwide toll is expected to double in a generation, with 70 percent of those deaths occurring in developing countries.
Once the FCTC comes into force, parties will meet periodically to monitor enforcement, exchange experiences and ideas, and negotiate protocols. Likely protocols include smuggling and cross-border advertising.
While the measures in the FCTC represent a minimum set of tobacco control policies, the treaty explicitly encourages countries to go above and beyond these measures. Strong action on the part of countries will give them the opportunity to reduce the human suffering caused by tobacco and curb runaway costs of tobacco-related health care.
Now that the FCTC will enter into force, it is crucial that governments maintain the momentum and implement efficient and life saving tobacco control legislation. Weak interpretation and poor implementation of the FCTC’s provisions will not promote public health or save lives. Countries should aim for tight, maximum protection for the public rather than settle for the bare minimum.