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World Health Assembly adopts historic Tobacco Control Pact

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control now ready for signature

The 192 members of the World Health Organization today unanimously adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) aimed at curbing tobacco-related deaths and disease. This is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Convention requires countries to impose restrictions on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, establish new labelling and clean indoor air controls and strengthen legislation to clamp down on tobacco smuggling.

“Today, we are acting to save billions of lives and protect people’s health for generations to come. This is a historic moment in global public health, demonstrating the international will to tackle a threat to health head on,” said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the WHO to the 56th World Health Assembly.

“Now we must see this Convention come into force as soon as possible, and countries must use it as the basis of their national tobacco-control legislation,” she said. Four years in the making, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has been a priority in the WHO’s global work to stem the tobacco epidemic. Tobacco now kills some five million people each year. This death toll could double to reach 10 million by 2020 if countries do not implement the measures of the FCTC. While smoking rates are declining in some industrialised countries, they are increasing, especially among the young, in many developing countries. These will account for over seventy percent of that projected death toll.

“We must do our utmost to ensure that young people everywhere have the best opportunities for a healthy life. By signing, ratifying and acting on this Tobacco Convention, we can live up to this responsibility,” said Dr Brundtland. To bring the FCTC into force, forty countries are needed to ratify or otherwise accept it.

‘’Every country present in this room will testify to the challenges we faced as we worked on this final document. We now have to ensure the agreement we have reached will do what is intended to do – save lives and prevent disease,’’ said ambassador Luis Felipe Seixas de Corrêa, the Brazilian diplomat who chaired the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body of the FCTC. The 6th round of negotiations, which arrived at the final text, finished on 1 March 2003.

The FCTC will be open for signature at WHO headquarters from 16 to 22 June 2003 and thereafter at the UN headquarters (New York) from 30 June 2003 to 29 June 2004.

All background on the FCTC.

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For more information contact:

Ms Helen Green
Telephone: +41 (22) 791 3432
Mobile phone: +41 (79) 475 5572
Fax: +41 (22) 791 4832
E-mail: greenh@who.int