Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Plans for International Convention to Control Tobacco Move Ahead

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Plans for International Convention to Control Tobacco Move Ahead

Article excerpt

Plans for a framework convention on tobacco control are moving ahead following a resolution by WHO's Executive Board calling on the Organization's 191 Member States to participate in drafting and negotiating the text of the convention. The resolution was adopted at the closing of the 103rd session of the WHO Executive Board in January.

At least 3.5 million lives were lost in 1998 as a result of smoking and other forms of tobacco use worldwide, the Executive Board was told. By 2030, the tobacco-related death toll will top 10 million a year, with 70% of the deaths in developing countries, if present trends continue, according to a report on WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative.

The Executive Board's resolution now goes to the World Health Assembly which meets in Geneva in May. If the Assembly approves the resolution, an intergovernmental negotiating body would start work next year and have a draft framework convention and related protocols drafted for adoption in May 2003. A framework international convention is a legally binding international treaty whereby the states that sign agree to pursue broadly stated goals, in this case international tobacco control. This would be the first international convention adopted by WHO. Areas that it might address include:

* tobacco smuggling (recorded world exports of cigarettes exceed imports by about 350 billion cigarettes, implying that up to 7% of global production is smuggled, according to US Department of Agriculture estimates);

* tobacco advertising, promotion and sale;

* pricing and taxation (international harmonization of tobacco prices and taxes at high levels would discourage smoking and reduce smuggling from low-price countries to high-price ones);

* package design and labelling;

* minimum standards for the content of tobacco products. …

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