Ceremony of entry into force of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Geneva, Switzerland
28 February 2005

Ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome you all to this ceremony to mark the entry into force of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

27 February 2005 , yesterday, the first ever WHO-negotiated treaty became a legally-binding instrument. Countries now have an effective international legal mechanism for curbing the harm caused by tobacco. It is a great accomplishment. We should all be proud of it and grateful to the many people, like yourselves, who have made it possible.

Special recognition is due to the first forty Contracting Parties, who have led the way to the entry-into-force and enabled it to proceed without delay. Seventeen more countries to date have followed suit and they too deserve our warmest applause.

All our Member States have helped to turn the idea of this Convention into the reality that it now is. We appreciate the hard work they have done for it, and the trust they have placed in WHO to take that work forward through the Secretariat.

We will keep working on tobacco control with the utmost dedication. Technical support for moving the process forward in your own countries will continue to be a major emphasis of our work.

The first Conference of the Parties will be in February next year and it will establish the permanent modes of operation of the Treaty. Only countries that have become States Parties ninety days prior to the Conference will have an active decision-making role in it, so I encourage you all to make sure your country joins by November this year. This will allow you to continue to take the lead in reducing tobacco use and its devastating consequences.

Our work now enters a new phase which is demanding. Keeping public spaces free from smoke, prohibiting tobacco advertising and sales to minors, requiring strong health warnings on tobacco products, and all the other measures that are now legally binding, call for intense long-term efforts.

There are great examples today of countries that have already put some of these measures in place, and many other countries that are well on their way to doing so. With the Treaty now in force, progress in one country is progress in all of them.

It will save many lives.

Thank you.