Global perspective Human stories

Ahead of vital deadline, UN agency urges states to join tobacco control treaty

Ahead of vital deadline, UN agency urges states to join tobacco control treaty

With less than a month left until a crucial deadline in enforcing a United Nations global treaty curbing tobacco use, which currently causes 5 million deaths and a net loss of $200 billion in treatment and lost productivity each year, the UN health agency today called on all countries not yet parties to sign up now.

Countries must deposit the instrument of ratification of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in New York by 8 November in order to participate with full powers in the first Conference of the Parties (COP) in February.

“With the deposit of China's ratification, the total population protected by the Treaty is now over 4 billion, more than half the world's population. We are calling for more countries to join for the first Conference of the Parties, which will be decisive in shaping the future of global tobacco control,” WHO Assistant Director-General for non-communicable diseases and mental health Catherine Le Galès-Camus said.

During the first COP in Geneva from 6-17 February, Parties will decide technical, procedural and financial matters relating to the implementation of the Treaty such as the establishment of the permanent Secretariat, funding and financial support and monitoring and reporting on implementation progress among others.

The treaty, which entered into force last February following ratification by 40 countries, requires Parties to restrict tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, set new labelling and clean indoor air controls, and strengthen laws against tobacco smuggling.

Parties are bound to translate its general provisions into national laws and regulations. They have, for example, three years to ensure that tobacco packaging has strong health warnings, and five years to establish comprehensive advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans.

A country becomes a contracting party to the WHO FCTC 90 days after the deposit of a valid instrument of ratification. “Therefore, for a Member State to participate as full Party during the entire Conference it is vital that the deposit of the instrument be done before 8 November 2005,” WHO said.

The WHO FCTC currently has 89 Parties. Another 105 countries are eligible to become parties.