Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Key elements of tobacco control legislation

Some key elements of legislation for tobacco control include the following:

Institutions and mechanisms

Legislation creates, legitimizes and finances an authority to implement and direct a legislative and policy programme for tobacco control in a country. This may be a centralized office within the Ministry of Health or another agency. It may include several agencies as in Brazil (where a national committee for the WHO FCTC was also created) or a multisectoral coordinating body as in Australia and Thailand.

Legislation can also provide for a funding mechanism by prescribing, for example, that a portion of revenue generated by cigarette taxes can be earmarked to fund part or all of the tobacco programme as has occurred in Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Finland, Iceland, Malaysia, Nepal, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Uruguay and some States of the United States of America. The creation of a national coordination mechanism or focal point for tobacco control by States Parties is a requirement under Article 5 of the WHO FCTC.

Public education

Legislation requiring mass public education campaigns is an important vehicle for changing public attitudes regarding tobacco and tobacco control. Mandatory aggressive, well-funded counter-advertising campaigns, using multiple messages maintained over a long period of time for example in the states of California and Massachusetts in the USA, Ecuador, Malaysia, Peru and Romania have been shown to contribute significantly to reduced tobacco use in youth and overall tobacco consumption. Legislation ensures a binding obligation on the public authority and ensures permanence of public educational programmes for tobacco control.

Advertising, promotion and sponsorship

A comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is at the core of effective tobacco control legislation and programme generally. A comprehensive ban involves a ban on all forms of direct and indirect advertisements, promotion and sponsorship. Examples of best practices on ban of advertisements include Ireland, Norway, India, New Zealand, Thailand and Iran.

Price and tax measures

Price and tax measures are an important and effective means of reducing tobacco consumption, especially among young people. Raising taxes and hence the price of cigarettes and other tobacco products, has a double advantage: it not only generates revenue for government, but also produces a prompt decline tobacco use, particularly among young people and low income groups. For example, there are case studies of well implemented price and tax measures from Norway, South Africa among others.

France has also raised tax rates to raise the price of cigarettes by at least 5% each year in the past decade. The World Bank recommends that the tax component of a retail pack of cigarettes in countries developing comprehensive tobacco control measures must be between 2/3 and 3/4 of the total retail cost. WHO advises governments to raise the real price over and above inflation regularly. Fiscal legislation in all countries imposes taxes on a variety of goods, including tobacco. For example, a legal provision in a tobacco control law on the raising of taxes of cigarettes would trigger a corresponding amendment of the tax/fiscal law schedule of cigarettes that tax on these are being increased.