Oct. 20 2000
Geneva, Switzerland — The Framework Convention Alliance is encouraged by the many commitments that countries expressed this week to negotiate a strong and specific Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that has the protection and promotion of public health as its guiding principle. Now the challenge is to translate these words into action. The Convention must seek to substantially and quickly reduce tobacco-related death, disease and disability around the world. We cannot forget that, since the opening of the first FCTC Working Group in October 1999, almost four million people have died worldwide from tobacco-related diseases.
We are encouraged by several developments this week that this challenge can and will be met.
First, we applaud the selection of a dynamic chairman, Ambassador Celso Amorim of Brazil, who has demonstrated the skill and experience necessary to bring the negotiating process to a successful conclusion. He has moved the process forward in a way that should and must lead to concrete accomplishments by the end of the next session in early 2001. We are committed to returning to our own countries and working to make sure that the process started here is not only continued, but strengthened.
Second, we are heartened that so many countries advocated a total ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. Delegates repeatedly and emphatically stated that such a ban must be comprehensive, encompassing all age groups and including direct and indirect advertising; must address in detail the issue of cross-border advertising; and must require public disclosure of tobacco industry expenditures on advertising, promotions, and sponsorship. Delegates' positions were substantially stronger than the options included in the Proposed Draft Elements and should be reflected in the final Convention and its protocols.
Third, we are encouraged by the commitments expressed to including strong and specific measures to reduce cigarette smuggling in both the Convention and a separate protocol. Smuggling undermines national tobacco tax policies that the World Bank has identified as a key tool in tobacco control and is a clearly transnational issue that must be a priority for the Convention.
Much work remains to ensure that the final Convention and its protocols effectively address these and other issues, including duty free sales, product regulation, warning labels, excise taxes, passive smoking, and prevention and cessation programs. We must also remain vigilant about the role of the tobacco industry, which the WHO infiltration report and the two days of public hearings make clear continues to work to subvert this process. On the whole, the negotiations are off to an encouraging start. The Framework Convention Alliance pledges to work constructively with the members of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body to ensure that a strong and effective FCTC is developed that protects public health and reduces the death and disease caused by tobacco.
(The Framework Convention Alliance is an alliance of more than 60 groups from over 20 countries working to support the development of a strong and effective Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. For more information, please visit our web site at www.fctc.org or contact FCTCalliance@inet.co.th. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is a member of the Alliance.)