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28 countries sign WHO tobacco control treaty on opening day

28 countries sign WHO tobacco control treaty on opening day

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Twenty-eight countries and the European Community (EC) signed today the new global tobacco control treaty unanimously adopted last month by all 192 Member States of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

Twenty-eight countries and the European Community (EC) signed today the new global tobacco control treaty unanimously adopted last month by all 192 Member States of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

“This treaty makes us accountable to the world. It also makes the world accountable to itself. We are racing against time that clocks 5 million tobacco deaths in the world every year,” WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland said in her message to the signing ceremony held at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva.

The first international treaty negotiated under WHO auspices, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires countries to restrict tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, set new labelling and clean indoor air controls and strengthen legislation to clamp down on tobacco smuggling. Tax and price increases would also be considered.

WHO said today’s signature does not yet bind countries to the treaty, but is an expression of political support and of good faith to abide by the principles it enshrines in the interim period until ratification. As soon as 40 countries ratify the Convention, it becomes law for those countries and thereafter, for other countries that ratify it.

“The desire of countries to sign the Convention on the first day is more proof of the solid political commitment to put an end to deaths resulting from tobacco use,” Dr. Brundtland said. “I urge countries throughout the world to follow the example of those here today – to swiftly sign and then ratify this treaty. Let’s keep the momentum going.”

The countries that signed the FCTC – in the order that they participated – included Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Botswana, Hungary, Iceland and Iran.

They were followed by Italy, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Paraguay, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Gambia.

The EC signed as a regional economic integration organization. Its Member States that wish to do so will sign and ratify the treaty individually.