May. 16 2003
Washington, D.C. — We applaud the decision by the European Union to adopt and ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the recently negotiated tobacco control treaty. The EU's decision to support the treaty leaves the United States isolated in its efforts to reopen negotiations on the treaty and significantly weaken it. We urge the United States to join the vast majority of nations in signing the treaty, which holds such potential for improving health and saving lives around the world. If the United States decides not to sign the treaty, it should give up its efforts to reopen the negotiations and let other nations get on with the important work of protecting the health of their citizens. The treaty is scheduled to be adopted at the World Health Assembly, the meeting of health ministers from around the world that begins May 19 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Germany had been the lone EU nation expressing objections to the treaty, which could have held up ratification by the EU, which operates by consensus. On Thursday, at a meeting of EU health ministers, Germany agreed not to block EU ratification of the treaty and instead will state that it cannot implement the treaty's call for nations to ban tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorship because of constitutional concerns. Largely at the behest of the U.S., the treaty's advertising ban allows such a constitutional exemption. But rather than exercising that exemption, the U.S. has sought much broader changes that would render the treaty largely meaningless.