26 Sep 2003
Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Trish Worth, today confirmed that the Australian Government intends to sign the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as soon as possible.
The Convention was unanimously agreed by the World Health Assembly in May 2003, but it is up to individual countries to decide on their response. Ms Worth said the way is now clear for Australia to join the 47 countries that have already signed the historic Convention. Australia could sign as early as October.
"The Convention is an historic milestone because it is the first time all the world’s nations have got together to develop an agreement on such a pressing public health issue," Ms Worth said.
"Australia was a major player in the negotiations and we worked hard to achieve a robust Convention that will lead to good tobacco policies across the globe.
"It is very encouraging that Australia will now be able to join those countries that have already signed."
Ms Worth said Australia already has comprehensive health policies on tobacco, including bans on advertising and requirements for health warnings on tobacco products. The Government is making excellent progress in reviewing these policies to ensure that they are up to date and help protect young Australians in particular from the dangers of smoking.
The World Health Organization estimates that, if left unchecked, tobacco will kill 10 million people worldwide by 2030 and sees the Convention as a major weapon in its counterattack.
"Australia is a world leader in tobacco control but no one can afford to be complacent. The Convention will encourage other countries to develop the kinds of policies that have worked well for us here," Ms Worth said.
"At the same time we know that 3.6 million Australians still smoke and we need to keep working on ways to get that number down and make sure our young people don’t start."
Media contact: Mark Williams, Ms Worth’s Office – 0401 147 558