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WHO honors Brazilian Foreign Minister for leadership in Tobacco Control

The United Nations' principal health agency today honored the Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim for laying the foundation stone upon which the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was built.

''Through this award I salute your wisdom and courage in blazing a trail in global tobacco control that will empower countries around the world to save lives and prevent disease,'' said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization, handing over the Director-General's Award for leadership in global tobacco control.

WHO's 192 Member States recently adopted the FCTC, the organization's first treaty that will ban tobacco advertising and promotion, curb smuggling, protect people from second hand smoke and raise taxes on tobacco products. Amorim was the first chair of the intergovernmental negotiating body that concluded the treaty. The Brazilian led the group through the challenging initial stages of negotiations and defined the parameters within which consensus finally emerged.

''I accept this award on behalf of my country which played a leading role in the process that led to the adoption of the FCTC. Tobacco control is an integral part of people's right to health and I am particularly honored to have been part of this global struggle,'' said Amorim. He added that the FCTC's success is opportune as it comes at a time when people are calling upon their leaders to fully understand and secure their access and right to health.

Today's ceremony comes a fortnight before the FCTC formally opens for signature between 16-22 June, 2003, at the WHO headquarters. On 16th June, countries and the EC will gather in Geneva to sign the FCTC. This will take countries into the ratification phase. The FCTC will enter into force when 40 countries ratify it. WHO officials say the treaty was negotiated in record time and they hope the ratifications will follow suit.

Tobacco now kills some 5 million people annually. Delays in implementation mean more preventable deaths.

For more information contact:

Ms Helen Green
Telephone: +41 (22) 791 3432
Mobile phone: +41 (79) 475 5572
Fax: +41 (22) 791 4832