Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (abbreviated WHO FCTC) is a treaty adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly on May 21, 2003. It became the first World Health Organization treaty adopted under article 19 of the WHO constitution. The treaty came into force on February 27, 2005. It had been signed by 168 countries and is legally binding in 160 ratifying/accessioned countries representing over 3 billion people. There are currently 35 non-parties to the treaty (15 which has not signed and 20 which have signed but not ratified).

The objective of the treaty is "to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke." To this end, the treaty provides a framework of national, regional and international tobacco control measures, including the setting of broad limits on the production, sale, distribution, advertisement, taxation, and government policies towards tobacco.

The United States has sought to change certain provisions of this treaty, but with limited success. Among the provisions opposed successfully were a mandatory ban on the distribution of free tobacco samples (which is now optional), a narrow definition of the term "minor" regarding the sale of tobacco (which now refers to domestic or national law) and broad limitations concerning the tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (which were seen as violating free speech, and are now subject to constitutional limitations). Among the provisions unsuccessfully opposed by the U.S. were the requirement for warning labels to be written in the language of the country where the tobacco products are being sold, and the ban on deceptive and misleading descriptions such as "low tar" or "ultra-light", which might infringe on trademark protections.

Requirements

Significant provisions of the treaty require that parties implement the following measures:

Topic Measure Articles
Demand reduction Tax and other measures to reduce tobacco demand. Article 6 & 7
Passive smoking Obligation to protect all people from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, public transport and indoor public places. Article 8
Regulation The contents and emissions of tobacco products are to be regulated and ingredients are to be disclosed. Article 10
Packaging and labeling Large health warning (at least 30% of the packet cover, 50% or more recommended); deceptive labels ("mild", "light", etc.) are prohibited. Article 9 & 11
Awareness Public awareness for the consequences of smoking. Article 12
Tobacco advertising Comprehensive ban, unless the national constitution forbids it. Article 13
Addiction Addiction and cessation programs. Article 14
Smuggling Action is required to eliminate illicit trade of tobacco products. Article 15
Minors Restricted sales to minors. Article 16
Research Tobacco-related research and information sharing among the parties. Articles 20, 21, & 22

World Map Status

References

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