25 Feb 2005
On February 27, 2005 the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the international tobacco treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, will become international law. The Sri Lanka National Federation on Smoking or Health applauds the first forty countries that ratified the Treaty and the 17 other countries that ratified since. The treaty is a major step forward in the global battle against death and disease caused by the tobacco epidemic, the second major cause of death in the world. It provides the basic tools for countries to enact comprehensive tobacco control legislation and take on the powerful tobacco industry.
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 second-hand smoke, increased tobacco taxation, and measures to combat cigarette smuggling.
The annual premature death toll because of tobacco smoking is around 22,000 in Sri Lanka. The productivity loss to the country far exceeds the income derived from tobacco. Many studies show that there is a net economic loss to the country. Hence we congratulate Sri Lanka for ratifying the treaty, the first in Asia, and look forward to working with the government to ensure that the treaty is fully implemented. Ratification and implementation of the treaty are critical to protecting our citizens and our country from the devastating health and economic impacts of tobacco.
Globally, The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately five million people die each year from tobacco use. If current trends continue, this figure will reach 10 million per year by 2030, with 70 percent of those deaths occurring in developing countries. 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.
Sri Lanka National Federation on Smoking or Health
24 February 2005