Campaign Joins International Partners In Calling For Strong And Specific Tobacco Treaty

Oct. 17 2000

Washington, DC — The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS today joined public health organizations from more than 20 countries in calling on the world's nations to negotiate a strong and specific international tobacco treaty that makes protecting public health its paramount priority.

The statement was issued as the 191 member nations of the World Health Assembly convened in Geneva to begin negotiating the proposed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which would be the world's first public health treaty. The treaty has been proposed by the World Health Organization to control an international tobacco epidemic that currently claims four million lives a year worldwide, with that number projected to increase to 10 million per year by 2030.

The CAMPAIGN joined in issuing the statement as a member of the Framework Convention Alliance, a coalition of more than 60 organizations from over 20 countries.

"The protection and promotion of public health must be the guiding principle for all the decisions and actions of the negotiating parties," the Alliance states. "The Convention itself should include specific obligations on, among other issues, advertising, duty free sales, product regulation, smuggling, and warning labels."

STATEMENT OF THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ALLIANCE

October 16, 2000

The negotiation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) represents an historic opportunity for global action to curtail the tobacco epidemic. The Framework Convention Alliance would like to commend the Member States for all of the hard work that has been put into the process so far. We urge the delegates to the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to take bold actions this week to advance the progress made by the working groups. The decisions that delegates make on the procedural issues will help determine the ultimate strength of the FCTC.

Members of the Framework Convention Alliance present in Geneva would like to offer some initial recommendations for the procedures, principles and substance of the FCTC:

On the procedures of the INB, we urge that:

  • document A/FCTC/INB1/2 (Working Group Proposed Draft Elements) serve as the basis for the negotiations on the FCTC;

  • there be full NGO participation in all meetings of the Negotiating Body, working groups, ad hoc bodies and any other committees that are established by the INB for the purposes of negotiating or implementing the FCTC; and that

  • tobacco companies and their affiliates should not be an official party to the negotiations and should not be allowed to serve on any advisory, scientific, enforcement or implementation bodies of the FCTC.

On the principles of the FCTC, we would urge that:

  • the principal aim of the FCTC must be to substantially and quickly reduce death, disease, and disability;

  • the protection and promotion of public health must be the guiding principle for all the decisions and actions of the negotiating parties;

  • the Convention itself include specific obligations on, among other issues, advertising, duty free sales, product regulation, smuggling, and warning labels, rather than reserving all obligations to the protocols;

  • the public health provisions of the FCTC should take precedence over other international agreements. For example, measures to protect public health may conceivably conflict with trade liberalisation, but the public health objectives are legitimate and should take precedence over trade when lives are at stake; and that

  • nothing in the FCTC should undermine existing tobacco control initiatives or regulations in any signatory state nor prevent, pre-empt or discourage any party from taking stronger action than required by the FCTC.

Finally, we would also like to make some recommendations on the substance of the FCTC, which should include, among other measures:

  • a total ban on all forms of direct and indirect tobacco advertising, sponsorship, promotion and "brand-stretching";

  • strong measures to combat tobacco smuggling;

  • a ban on duty free sales and duty free imports of tobacco;

  • comprehensive tobacco product regulation, including but not limited to minimum standards for manufacturing, packaging, ingredient and smoke composition and disclosure, product content, and labelling;

  • prominent health warnings in the main language of the country in which the tobacco product is to be solved;

  • a prohibition on the use of misleading terms like "light" or "mild" on tobacco products;

  • a mechanism for the transfer of technology, finance and knowledge to assist countries in their tobacco control efforts; and

  • the use of tobacco tax policy as a public health tool to achieve continuous decreases in tobacco consumption.

The FCTC should require all parties to establish and document an evidence-based, comprehensive tobacco control program including local, national and international measures with the aim of reducing harm caused to tobacco users and to those exposed to secondhand smoke. Finally, Member States should not wait for the conclusion of the negotiations to implement these measures, including those called for in World Health Assembly resolutions that have already been unanimously approved.

The Alliance pledges to work constructively with the members of the INB to ensure that a strong and effective FCTC is developed that protects public health and reduces the death and disease caused by tobacco.

 

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