Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Outcomes on Tobacco and Poverty during the ECOSOC 2004 Substantive Session


Information released by ECOSOC during the meetings on tobacco-related issues

Excerpts on tobacco-related information follow. This information has been extracted from the various press releases issued by ECOSOC on its substantive session 2004.

39th & 40th Meetings 15 July 2004

"The ECOSOC also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control (document E/2004/55), which stresses that tobacco control should be recognized as a key component in efforts to reduce poverty, improve development and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Having identified five areas of concern -- the impact of tobacco on health, economic growth, poverty, its fiscal impact and the impact of globalization on tobacco use at the country level -- the Task Force recommends that those problems be addressed through a multisectoral approach. Issues of tobacco control should also be included in the forthcoming activities of the United Nations Development Group, as well as in the agendas of the regional economic commissions."

41st & 42nd Meetings 16 July 2004

Members Hold Panel Discussion with Heads of United Nations Regional Commissions "The Council also considered the report on the work of the Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco, introduced by Douglas Bettcher, World Health Organization (WHO), speaking in his capacity as Coordinator of the Framework Convention Team, Tobacco-Free Initiative. Speakers emphasized that the WHO Convention on Tobacco Control, with 167 WHO Member States and the European Community as signatories, constituted a powerful tool for tobacco control. An aggressive and continuous information campaign, targeted pricing measures and far-reaching legislation were needed to limit the marketing and use of tobacco.

The representative of Bangladesh said that spending by the poor on tobacco products had an extremely high opportunity cost. A study performed in Bangladesh had shown that almost 10.5 million people could be saved from malnutrition if low-income households would switch their tobacco spending to food. Moreover, farmers were also negatively affected due to the low price of raw tobacco."

"DOUGLAS BETTCHER, World Health Organization (WHO), speaking in his capacity as Coordinator of the Framework Convention Team on the Tobacco-Free Initiative, said tobacco represented a multifaceted problem that affected a large number of sectors, including health, finance, customs, trade, environment, agriculture and industry. As the tobacco epidemic was reinforced through global marketing, trade liberalization and increased smuggling, tobacco control could only be effective if carried out in multisectoral collaboration between different sectors of governments and intergovernmental agencies. The United Nations Ad Hoc Inter-agency Task Force provided the best platform to strengthen that collaboration. Providing an update on the status of WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, he said the treaty had been closed for signature on 29 June 2004, with 167 WHO Member States and the European Community as signatories. The treaty, which would enter into force 90 days after the deposit of the fortieth instrument of ratification, currently had 24 States parties. In preparation for the first session of the Conference of Parties, the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Convention had met from 21 to 25 June to consider and prepare proposals on issues identified in the Convention for consideration and adoption."

"SARAH ROTICH-MATTHEWS (Kenya) said the Secretary-General's report presented the grim reality of tobacco consumption and its effects on the wealth, health and economic well-being of smokers and their families. Moreover, tobacco consumption constituted a serious threat to achievement of the Millennium Goals and sustainable development, through its impact on communities and nations. Therefore, tobacco control should be included in both national and global policies. At the global level, the WHO's Convention on Tobacco Control constituted a powerful tool for tobacco control, she said. As a party to the Convention, Kenya looked forward to its entry into force and urged as many governments as possible to ratify it. The country had also co-sponsored the draft resolution on that issue."

HJALMAR W. HANNESON (Iceland) said an aggressive and continuous information campaign was essential for tobacco prevention, as were targeted price measures and far-reaching legislation limiting its marketing and use. A complete ban on direct and indirect tobacco advertising was an essential component of such legislation.

Iceland had been among the first countries to ban tobacco advertising in 1971, he said. In 1984, it had introduced severe restrictions on its sale and on smoking. Those and other measures had had a clear impact on tobacco consumption, as tobacco sales had fallen by 42.5 per cent from 1984 to 2001. Along with falling consumption, a health dividend had also appeared, as the frequency of lung cancer had fallen steadily.

KONDKHER MOHAMMAD TALHA (Bangladesh) said that the escalation in tobacco use was a major health and development concern today and the adoption of the [WHO] Framework Convention on Tobacco Control had generated the right momentum for the agenda. The international community had demonstrated its commitment to the cause while, at the same time, national governments were devising and implementing comprehensive tobacco-control measures. The worst affected, developing countries were facing a dual burden in the tobacco epidemic, he said. Tobacco consumption had severe consequences for poor families, and health-care costs were especially heavy for them. Spending by the poor on tobacco products had had an extremely high opportunity cost. A study performed in Bangladesh showed that almost 10.5 million people could be saved from malnutrition if low-income households would switch their tobacco spending to food. Moreover, due to the low price of raw tobacco, farmers were often unable to repay their loans.

Bangladesh had been the first least developed country to sign the Convention, he said, adding that the country's national anti-tobacco campaign had effectively started in the late 1980s, with civil society taking the lead role. Strong political commitment was needed at the national, regional and international levels for a coordinated and comprehensive response to the challenges presented by the tobacco epidemic.

43rd Meeting 19 July 2004

Finally, the Council had a report of the Secretary-General on the Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control (document E/2004/55), which stresses that, as tobacco use has an adverse impact on health, poverty, malnutrition, education and environment, tobacco control should be recognized as a key component in efforts to reduce poverty, improve development and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Having identified five areas of concern, namely, the impact of tobacco on health, economic growth, poverty, its fiscal impact and the impact of globalization on tobacco use at the country level, the Task Force recommends that the problems associated with tobacco use be addressed by multisectoral approach. Issues of tobacco control should also be included in the forthcoming activities of the United Nations Development Group, as well as in the agendas of the regional economic commissions."

50th & 51st Meetings 26 July 2004

"Next, ECOSOC adopted, as orally amended, the draft resolution on "Tobacco control" (document E/2004/L.49), by which the Council called on Member States that had not yet done so to consider ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control at the earliest opportunity. It called on the relevant agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations and invited other relevant international organizations to continue to provide support for strengthening national and international tobacco control programmes, and urged Member States to strengthen tobacco control measures."

Share