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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686

Bull World Health Organ vol.81 n.7 Genebra Jan. 2003 



Countries press ahead to ratify global tobacco control treaty



Twenty-eight countries and the European Community signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on the first day it was open for signature, 16 June. Once the treaty has been ratified by 40 countries, it comes into force, which means it will be legally binding for those countries and for all those that ratify it subsequently.

The FCTC is the first international treaty to be negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It requires countries to impose restrictions on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, establish new labelling and clean indoor air controls, and strengthen legislation to clamp down on tobacco smuggling. The provisions set out in the Convention are seen as an international floor; countries and regional organizations are free to legislate for higher levels of control.

The Convention was adopted unanimously on 21 May by the 192 countries comprising the World Health Assembly. On the occasion of its adoption, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO, told the Health Assembly: "Today we are acting to save millions of lives and protect people's health for generations to come. This is a historic moment in global public health, demonstrating the international will to tackle a threat to health head on."

Four years in the making, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has been a priority in WHO's global work to stem the tobacco epidemic. Tobacco now kills some five million people each year. The death toll could reach 10 million a year by 2020 if countries do not implement the measures of the FCTC.

More information on the treaty is available from: health_topics/tobacco/en/