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WHO calls for recommitment to a tobacco-free world on 10th anniversary of FCTC

The head of the secretariat of WHO’s convention on tobacco control Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva has called for recommitment to further reducing tobacco use. Speaking on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Dr Costa e Silva said that a tobacco-free world is within reach but the fight is far from over: “We must fight to save the 6 million lives lost each year to tobacco. . . . To counter the tobacco lobby’s influence, we must stand together against this insidious industry.”

The WHO says that tobacco companies are still spending billions on advertising, and they are challenging the implementation of the WHO FCTC and tobacco control laws at national and international courts, and through international trade and investment agreements. Moreover, it warns that the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) and waterpipes is gaining in popularity.

The WHO FCTC was the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO and became one of the fastest endorsed by the United Nations, with 180 Parties, covering 90% of the world’s population.

Full implementation would support global commitments to achieving a 25% reduction in premature deaths from non-communicable diseases in the next 10 years.

“FIP supported the establishment of the convention from the beginning and its status as one of 16 NGOs with observer status to the conference of the parties to the convention was renewed last year. FIP continues to support the fight against tobacco. Its members all over the world work to educate the public on the harms of smoking and to help people to stop smoking,” said Luc Besançon, CEO and general secretary of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

A decade of saving lives
The WHO FCTC has enabled many significant achievements in tobacco control over the past decade, including the following:

  • 80% of countries have strengthened their tobacco control legislation;
  • The cost of a packet of cigarettes has, on average, increased by 150%;
  • There has been a great increase in the use of graphic health warnings
  • Many countries have banned smoking in indoor and outdoor public spaces, which has helped ensure that smoking is no longer seen as socially acceptable;
  • Some countries have set the explicit goal of becoming “tobacco free” (with less than 5% prevalence of tobacco use), including Finland, Ireland and New Zealand.

World No Tobacco Day: 31 May
An issue that remains high on the WHO FCTC’s agenda, however, is the illicit tobacco trade, which accounts for one in every 10 cigarettes and many other tobacco products consumed globally. Although the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was adopted in November 2012, it requires 34 more parties to endorse it to become international law. This is a new international treaty open to all parties to the WHO FCTC, and aims to tackle smuggling and other kinds of illicit trade, which are a grave danger to public health. Stopping the illicit tobacco trade is the theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day.

Click here to download the FCTC 10th anniversary leaflet.