TOBACCO: U.S. not among nations to sign tobacco treaty
As of last week, 100 nations had ratified the first global treaty that seeks to reduce tobacco-related diseases.
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, as the treaty is called, sets out strict rules on tobacco advertising and cigarette smoking in countries that adopt the agreement.
The treaty, the first negotiated by the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization, got enough signatures to go into effect earlier this year, but the battle over its implementation is only beginning.
As countries that have ratified the pact (The United States has not) prepare to meet in February to discuss enforcement, tobacco-control activists have charged the world's largest cigarette companies -- including Philip Morris International, sister company to Richmond-based Philip Morris USA -- with trying to dilute the treaty's tougher provisions by lobbying policymakers in individual nations.
Nations that ratify the accord have five years to adopt a ban or at least major restrictions -- on tobacco advertising and sponsorships and three years to require warning labels that cover half of cigarette packages. The treaty also calls for tougher smoking laws, higher taxes on tobacco products and a crackdown on cigarette smuggling.
All of this is aimed at reducing a death toll from tobacco-related diseases that the World Health Organization has pegged at 5 million a year and rising.
Tobacco companies "have been spreading misinformation about the treaty," said Megan Rising, a campaign organizer for Corporate Accountability International, a Boston-based, nonprofit watchdog group and a frequent critic of the tobacco industry.