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Final negotiations on global tobacco accord set to open in Geneva next week

Final negotiations on global tobacco accord set to open in Geneva next week

A groundbreaking moment in public health history is just around the corner as final negotiations get underway on a global treaty – the first-ever under the auspices of a United Nations agency – aimed at curbing the advertising, promotion, sales and smuggling of tobacco products.

The sixth and final round of negotiations for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) begins next week in Geneva when countries meet from 17 to 28 February to finalize the landmark agreement on international tobacco regulations.

The convention is part of a global strategy to reduce tobacco-related deaths and disease spearheaded by the UN World Health Organization (WHO). When in force, the treaty will include international rules on tobacco taxation, smoking prevention and treatment, illicit trade, advertising and promotion, and product regulation.

Ahead of the upcoming negotiations, WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland stressed the effectiveness of the convention’s broad regulatory strategy, saying that a big part of the solution to the tobacco epidemic lies in promoting “stop-smoking” programmes, raising tobacco taxes, increasing education, banning tobacco advertising and cracking down on smuggling.

WHO member states are expected to reach consensus on a final text to be submitted to the World Health Assembly for adoption in May. A key aspect of the negotiations is the issue of a total ban on tobacco advertising. The current text states that a complete ban on advertising should be the ultimate goal for signatories to the convention and encourages early elaboration of a supporting protocol on eliminating cross-border advertising and promotion.