Tobacco control efforts growing worldwide
GENEVA – Countries around the world are taking effective measures to curb tobacco use, including strong legislation, graphic warning labels and advertising bans.
These positive changes reinforce the commitment made by the more than 110 countries meeting this week to decide on the detailed implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
Many of the countries joining this first Conference of the Parties (COP) in Geneva have already implemented some of the measures in the convention. Ireland, Norway and Spain, for example, have recently banned smoking in indoor public places. India has comprehensive tobacco advertising bans. Brazil, Canada, Thailand and Singapore print graphic warnings on cigarette packages. These are just some of the examples of efforts which will contribute to a major reduction in tobacco deaths.
"This group has already changed history," said Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General of the World Health Organization. "The convention is something that we all committed to. Its provisions are bold. They are based on knowledge of what is effective. We will make it work."
Dr Lee made his comments to the first Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting this week in Geneva. The COP is the governing body of the Treaty. It serves as the authority to oversee, monitor and evaluate progress of the Treaty, in order to reduce tobacco consumption and tobacco-related deaths globally.
Concrete measures included in the Treaty could help save 200 million lives by the year 2050, if a progressive 50% reduction in uptake and consumption rates is achieved. Many measures in the WHO FCTC have deadlines and clear guidelines. For example, from the Treaty's entry into force, countries have three years to enforce health warnings on tobacco products, and five years to implement comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
Other measures, such as those regarding illicit trade or cross-border advertising, have not yet been detailed in the Treaty. The COP could decide to develop protocols and specific guidelines and requirements for countries to implement these measures.
The COP will likely also consider other measures to ensure the effective implementation of the rest of the treaty provisions. These might include financial support for developing countries, or mechanisms to ensure that countries do not fall behind in their implementation progress.
In February 2007, the first Contracting Parties will submit to the COP initial reports on their progress, specifying what actions they have taken to implement the tobacco control measures established in the Treaty. “This is a crucial time for people suffering the consequences of tobacco use,” said Dr Yumiko Mochizuki-Kobayashi, Director of the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative. “Tobacco is still the top preventable cause of death. The goal is to see it fall from that position in our lifetime. With continued commitment from Member States, we will achieve that goal."