The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today welcomed the United States Government's signing of a global treaty aimed at curbing tobacco-related deaths and disease, which now claim 5 million lives every year, a number that if left unchecked could double by 2020.
On Monday the US became the 109th country to sign the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control - the first-ever under the auspices of a United Nations agency. WHO said the signing showed Washington's commitment to maintaining standards of public health. The agency added that it was the first step in the process, and hoped that the next one would be the ratification of the treaty.
The treaty will take effect once 40 governments have ratified it; so far 12 have, and the European Parliament has recommended ratification. It requires ratifying nations to implement a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, set new labelling - including larger, more noticeable health warnings on cigarettes - and clean indoor air controls and strengthen legislation to clamp down on tobacco smuggling. It also requires Member States to prohibit tobacco product sales to minors.