- October 1 - As the countries of the world came together to open the 58th session of the UN General Assembly, many decided to take the important step of signing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Over the course of the past month more than 20 countries have signed the FCTC, the worlds first public health treaty. Infact and NATT are applauding the leadership of the countries that have formally expressed their support for the principles and provisions of the FCTC, and urging them to quickly ratify it. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN health agency that initiated the treaty, tobacco is projected to become the worlds leading cause of death by 2030. The FCTC will change the way the tobacco industry operates globally, and will save millions of lives. There are now 73 signatories to the FCTC, which enters into force and becomes international law after 40 countries sign and ratify it.
The momentum behind the FCTC is building every week. As we applaud the leadership of the countries that are signing now, we urge those same countries to move quickly to ratify the treaty. With millions of lives at stake, the swift implementation of this treaty depends on the political will of people committed to protecting human health from the deadly expansion of Big Tobacco, says Kathryn Mulvey, Executive Director of Infact, a US-based corporate accountability organization.
The following countries signed the treaty in September: Vietnam, India, Seychelles, Ireland, Lithuania, Venezuela, Malaysia, Mali, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Madagascar, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Samoa, Slovenia, Tonga, Belize, Panama and San Marino. Once a country indicates its formal support by signing, it is bound by the spirit and intent of the FCTC and is expected to bring its domestic laws in line with the treaty. Norway and Malta have both ratified the FCTC. For complete information on countries that have signed and ratified the FCTC, visit the WHO website: www.who.int/tobacco/fctc/signing_ceremony/countrylist/en/.
The tobacco industry is deeply concerned about the impact of the treaty on its profits and expansion plans. According to the cover story in the July 2003 Tobacco Reporter, an industry trade journal, While it remains to be seen whether the FCTCs bite is as bad as its barkall provisions must be translated into national laws and there is no enforcement mechanismit is safe to assume that business will not get any easier for the tobacco industry. Internal industry documents released through litigation show that tobacco giants such as Philip Morris/Altria sought advice from the notorious public relations firm Mongoven, Biscoe and Duchin on how to prevent or delay adoption of the FCTC.
We are working with health advocates and government officials in every region of the world to expose and challenge tobacco industry attempts to interfere with public health policy, including the implementation of the FCTC. Delaying the FCTCs entry into force will only benefit Philip Morris/Altria, BAT, Japan Tobacco International, and their shareholders in wealthy countries, says Mulvey.
The FCTC bans tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (such as Philip Morris/Altrias Marlboro Man) with exceptions only for constitutional reasons, and protects public health policy from tobacco industry interference. The treaty sets precedents for international regulation of other industries that threaten health, the environment and human rights.