ASH congratulates government for signing historic tobacco treaty

Monday 16 June 2003

ASH news release:  For immediate release:  Monday 16th June 2003


 ASH congratulates Government for signing Historic Tobacco Treaty

 When the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control [1] opened for signing today in Geneva the UK, as part of the EU, was there to sign. ASH welcomes the commitment shown by the Government to this legally binding treaty which includes the need to “protect everyone from exposure to tobacco smoke.”


Deborah Arnott, Director of the anti-tobacco campaigning group ASH, said:


“We are delighted that the UK government is among the first countries to sign the global treaty on tobacco control.   The requirement in the treaty for effective measures to provide protection from tobacco smoke commits the Government to bring in legislation to prevent people from being exposed to secondhand smoke in workplaces and public places.  It is encouraging that countries as diverse as Ireland, Netherlands South Korea and Uganda have already pledged such protection.  Britain must now follow suit if it is to avoid being relegated to the second division in tobacco control.”


The FCTC is the first-ever global health treaty.  It is a major step forward in the worldwide battle against the death and disease caused by the tobacco epidemic.  It provides the basic tools for countries to enact comprehensive tobacco control legislation and take on the powerful tobacco industry.


The treaty also commits nations to ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (with an exception for nations with constitutional constraints) and require large warning labels covering at least 30 percent of the display areas of the cigarette pack.


In addition it provides nations with a roadmap for enacting strong, science-based policies in other areas such as tobacco taxation, tobacco product regulation, combating cigarette smuggling, public education, and tobacco cessation treatment. While the measures in the FCTC represent a minimum set of tobacco control policies, the treaty explicitly encourages countries to go above and beyond these measures. Strong action on the part of countries will give them the opportunity to reduce the human suffering caused by tobacco and curb runaway costs of health care.


The treaty must be signed and ratified by 40 countries. As soon as 40 countries ratify the Convention, it becomes law for those countries and thereafter for other countries that ratify it.  Brazil, the European Community, Malta, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, South Africa and Thailand were also in Geneva today to sign the FCTC.


The World Health Organization estimates that about 4.9 million people die each year from tobacco use. If current trends continue, this figure will reach about 10 million per year by 2030, with 70 percent of those deaths occurring in developing countries. 








Notes and links:

[1]  For details of the FCTC see:

Contact: Deborah Arnott  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available