07 Aug 2008
The treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, was developed in response to the world’s tobacco epidemic and it reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.
It’s estimated that by 2015 there will be 6.4 million deaths worldwide each year due to tobacco-related diseases, or 10 per cent of all worldwide deaths. If trends continue, more than 70 per cent of these lives will be lost in developing countries.
The tobacco epidemic has spread globally through many complex factors with cross-border effects, including trade liberalization and direct foreign investment.
Other factors such as global marketing, transnational tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the international movement of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes have also led to the explosive increase in tobacco use.
Faced with increasing regulation and greater awareness of smoking health risks in a many developed countries, tobacco multinationals are searching for more markets in developing countries.
What the treaty requires
The treaty calls for parties to the convention to:
• enact and undertake comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship;
• ban misleading and deceptive terms on cigarette packaging such as “light”, “low-tar” and “mild”;
• implement rotating health warnings on tobacco packaging that covers at least 30 percent (ideally 50 percent or more) of the display areas – this may include pictures or pictograms;
• protect people from tobacco smoke exposure on public transport, and indoor work and public places;
• adopt or maintain taxation policies aimed at reducing tobacco consumption; and
• combat illicit trade in tobacco products. This requires monitoring, documenting and controlling product movement as well as including origin and destination information on packaging plus enacting legislation with appropriate penalties and remedies.