GLOBAL RESPONSE TO CALL FOR PUBLIC HEARINGS ON TOBACCO CONTROL
The international response to a call for public hearings on global
tobacco control has been ''overwhelming'', the World Health
Organization (WHO), the world's leading public health agency, said today.
''We were expecting a good response, and are now very
encouraged by the overwhelming and diverse range of submissions received,'' said
Dr. Derek Yach, Executive Director, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at WHO.
"This makes it possible for our Member States to listen to a wide range of viewpoints
before they craft a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to contribute to world
heath," he added.
At close of business on August 31 the last official date for
submission WHO had received over 400 testimonies from all regions of the world. All
submissions will be posted on WHO's website (http://genevahearings.who.int)
by late September 2000.
Many of the submissions come from the public health community.
All major tobacco companies have sent in their position papers on the
FCTC and many of their top executives will travel to Geneva to testify at two days of
public hearings scheduled for 12-13 October 2000.
Submissions have been received from interests and companies that cover
the entire tobacco growing, production and sales chain from the leaf to the
product. Others who have submitted include the food and hotel industry, the advertising
industry, consumer groups, church groups, smokers rights groups, sports organizations,
public health and health professional organizations, to name a few.
The hearings come two days before the start of full negotiations (16-21
October 2000) on the FCTC. This is planned as a multilaterally negotiated global tool that
helps to control and contain tobacco-related deaths through policy interventions and is
expected to open for signature no later than 2003.
WHO Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland called for the public
hearings in order to ensure all interested parties to the emerging FCTC be provided a
platform to express their views in a free and fair manner. The hearings will be an
occasion for WHO's Member States to listen to the tobacco industry's views on
the global treaty.
It is estimated that tobacco kills 4 million people annually. By 2030,
it is expected to cause 10 million deaths per year, 70% of these in the developing world.
Cost-effective interventions exist to prevent tobacco deaths: increased tobacco excise
taxes, bans on tobacco advertising and promotion, expansion of smoke free areas, wider
access to quitting methods; strong counter-advertising; and product regulation being core
For further information, please contact: Dr Derek Yach, Executive
Director, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, WHO, Tel: (+41 22) 791 2736; Mobile
(+41 79) 217 3404; email firstname.lastname@example.org; Mr Gregory
Hartl, WHO Spokesperson, Tel (+41 22) 791 4458, Fax (+41 22) 791 4858 ; e-mail :
email@example.com; or The Tobacco Free Initiative; World
Health Organization; 20, Avenue Appia; CH-1211 Geneva 27; Switzerland. Tel: (+41 22) 791
2108 or 3443; Fax: (+41 22) 791 4832; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org