Nations Take Strong Action Against Secondhand Smoke, Cigarette Smuggling

Actions Will Improve Health, Save Lives Around the World Statement of Damon Moglen, Vice President of International Programs

Jul. 6 2007

Bangkok — The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids congratulates the nations attending this week's meeting on implementation of the international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), for taking strong action that will improve health and save millions of lives around the world. The actions taken this week truly move the process of implementing this life-saving treaty forward and represent a giant step in turning the promise of the treaty into reality.

In particular, nations have taken the following important actions:

  • Nations adopted an international standard for protection from secondhand smoke that calls on governments to enact laws requiring 100 percent smoke-free workplaces and public places. This standard is what science recommends and will guide nations in meeting their treaty commitments to protect citizens from secondhand smoke. We call on governments to quickly enact comprehensive smoke-free laws that implement the new global standard.
  • Nations agreed to fund and launch expedited negotiations on a binding protocol, or side agreement to the treaty, to combat illicit trade in tobacco products. This protocol is critical to reducing tobacco use and its devastating consequences around the world because smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes are sold at lower prices than legal products, contributing to higher tobacco consumption and greater rates of tobacco-related illness and death.
  • Nations also agreed to establish a working group to draft comprehensive guidelines on the implementation of the treaty provisions that call for a ban on domestic and cross-border tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

On the issue of secondhand smoke, nations this week have delivered a clear and important message to the world. This message is that only 100 percent smoke-free workplaces and public places provide effective protection from secondhand smoke. Other approaches, such as designated smoking areas or rooms and ventilation systems, do not protect people from secondhand smoke.

We are very pleased that nations have adopted such a strong international standard for implementing the treaty provisions on secondhand smoke. The new standard states clearly that secondhand smoke kills, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and all people – especially workers – deserve to be protected from secondhand smoke.

This 100 percent smoke-free standard is based on the best science and it will guide nations in meeting their treaty commitments to protect citizens from secondhand smoke. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids urges all governments to quickly enact new laws requiring 100 percent smoke-free workplaces and public places.

Nations this week also took another important step by agreeing to start negotiations on a binding protocol to combat illicit trade in tobacco products. It is especially good news that funding has been provided for this process and that the protocol will be negotiated on an expedited basis.

Illicit trade in tobacco products is a serious problem that we must address in order to reduce tobacco use around the world. Smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes are sold at lower prices than legal products, which contributes to higher consumption and greater rates of smoking-related death and disease. Illicit trade also deprives governments of tax revenue and reduces funds available for public health and other programs.

Smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes accounted for 10.7 percent of total global trade in 2006. They cost governments more than $40 billion each year in revenue, which is greater than the GDP of two-thirds of the world's countries.

We urge nations to negotiate a strong, effective and binding protocol to combat illicit trade in tobacco products.

If governments continue to effectively implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, we will improve health and save millions of lives around the world.