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Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Director-General's statement

Peru has become the 40th country to become a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which will now become international law in 90 days. This is the first ever global public health treaty designed to reduce tobacco-related deaths and disease around the world. The entry into force of the Convention is the beginning of the real work which countries must do to control tobacco and limit the damage it does to people's health. WHO will continue to give full support to countries in implementing the Treaty.

From February 28 2005, the 40 countries that are Parties to the Treaty and others that subsequently ratify it or become parties to it will be legally bound by the provisions of the Treaty. These provisions set international standards on tobacco price and tax increases, tobacco advertising and sponsorship, labelling, illicit trade and second-hand smoke.

Tobacco is currently the second major cause of death in the world. It is responsible for about five million deaths every year. If current smoking patterns continue, that number could double by 2020. Half of the people who smoke today - that is about 650 million people - will eventually be killed by tobacco. Implementing this global Treaty will help countries to limit the enormous harm done by tobacco.

I would like to applaud the significant efforts that WHO Member States have put into the Convention process. From the moment the idea of a global treaty was born to today, when the Treaty is set to become law, the engagement and commitment of WHO Member States has been vital. It is only thanks to their enthusiasm and the trust they have placed in the process that we can today celebrate this great achievement.

I recognize the hard work done by civil society to turn this Treaty into reality. Non-governmental organizations were involved in the process right from the start, and their contribution is fully in line with the requirements of the Treaty. It emphasizes in its preamble the need for participation by civil society in tobacco control efforts nationally and internationally.

Today is also a time to congratulate the 40 countries that have been the first to become Parties to the Treaty and to lead the effort to combat tobacco around the world. These 40 countries represent all regions of the world, with states that are very different geographically, historically and socially. They are the living proof that this is a truly global treaty, with principles to which any country can adhere. These principles were discussed and agreed by all WHO Member States. The Treaty was adopted unanimously at the World Health Assembly just last year, and has rapidly been embraced by countries and people across the globe.

The momentum growing around the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control seems unstoppable. It demonstrates the importance placed by the international community on saving many of the millions of lives now lost to tobacco. I look forward to more countries joining the 40 States that are making it possible for this Treaty to become law and encourage them to do so at the earliest opportunity.

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For more information contact:

Marta Seoane
E-mail: seoanem@who.int