The 192 members of WHO unanimously adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) aimed at curbing tobacco-related deaths and disease on 22nd May 2003. The Convention 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.
"Today, we are acting to save billions 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," said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the WHO to the 56th World Health Assembly.
"Now we must see this Convention come into force as soon as possible, and countries must use it as the basis of their national tobacco-control legislation," she said. The framework has taken four years Tobacco now kills some five million people each year. This death toll could double to reach 10 million by 2020 if countries do not implement the measures of the FCTC. The smoking rates are are increasing, especially among the young, While smoking rates are declining in some industrialised countries but rsing in many developing countries.
"We must do our utmost to ensure that young people everywhere have the best opportunities for a healthy life. By signing, ratifying and acting on this Tobacco Convention, we can live up to this responsibility," said Dr Brundtland. To bring the FCTC into force, forty countries are needed to ratify or otherwise accept it.
''Every country present in this room will testify to the challenges we faced as we worked on this final document. We now have to ensure the agreement we have reached will do what is intended to do - save lives and prevent disease,'' said ambassador Luis Felipe Seixas de Corręa, the Brazilian diplomat who chaired the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body of the FCTC. The 6th round of negotiations, which arrived at the final text, finished on 1 March 2003. The FCTC will be open for signature at WHO headquarters from 16 to 22 June 2003 and thereafter at the UN headquarters (New York) from 30 June 2003 to 29 June 2004. While many countries, including those in the European Union and a number of African nations, said they would quickly sign the treaty, the United States and China- both large tobacco producers, made no immediate commitment to singing the treaty.
For more information contact:
Helen Green - Information Officer
Tobacco Free Initiative, WHO
Telephone: (+41 22) 791 3432
Mobile phone: (+41) 79 475 5572
Fax: (+41 22) 791 4832