World No Tobacco Day – ASH urges FCTC ratification

Monday 31 May 2004

ASH news release:  Embargo: Immediate


World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2004) – Tobacco and poverty

ASH urges FCTC ratification



The 192 member states of the World Health Organisation (WHO) today (31 May 2004) mark the 17th annual ‘World No Tobacco Day’,[1] highlighting the link between tobacco use and poverty. Health groups around the world are running events to raise awareness of the socio-economic impact of tobacco use, especially in the developing countries [2]


ASH is urging WHO member states to be signed up to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)  before the June 28 deadline and move towards ratification [3].  The FCTC is the world’s first global public health treaty.


The UK firm British American Tobacco (BAT) is the second largest tobacco manufacturer with a world market share of 15% and operating in over  180 countries. BAT dominates the tobacco trade in nearly all Commonwealth countries except the United Kingdom, holding market shares ranging from 43 percent in Pakistan to almost 100 percent in Zambia. A recent major report by ASH, Friends of the Earth and Christian Aid found tobacco industry activity in low-income and middle-income countries adversely affected virtually everyone involved, ranging from farmers, tobacco-workers to smokers. [4]


Tobacco use itself exacerbates poverty.  A study in Bangladesh found that the typical poor smoker could easily add over 500 calories to the diet of the family with his or her daily tobacco expenditure. An estimated 10.5 million malnourished people could have an adequate diet if money on tobacco were spent on food instead – the lives of 350 children could be saved each day. [5]


Tobacco kills 5 million people per year world-wide. By the 2020 this will increase to 10 million, of which 7 million will be in developing countries. [6]


Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:


“Tobacco is a major world killer and the problem will get worse if no action is taken. There will be 10m deaths by 2020, and a billion by the end of the century if we allow current trends to continue. It is a nightmare scenario that needs a co-ordinated international response.


“It is vital that the FCTC comes into force as soon as possible to curb the dreadful toll of death and disease caused by tobacco use.”



Notes and links:

[1] World No Tobacco Day 2004

[2] World No Tobacco Day Events around the world:

[3] 115 WHO member countries have signed the FCTC; 16 have ratified. (For the treaty to come into  force, it needs ratification from at least 40 signatories)

[4] BAT’s Big Wheeze, The alternative report.

[5] Hungry for Tobacco, Tobacco Control, Efroymson D, et al

[6] World Health Organisation


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