The latest round of negotiations for the global tobacco treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), held in Moscow ended this past Saturday, October 18, 2014. Government Delegates from 178 countries and the European Union representing nearly 90 percent of the world’s people gathered to confront one of the world’s deadliest ever epidemics. Tobacco use has killed 100 million people in the 20th century and, if trends do not change, will be responsible for the deaths of 1 billion people this century. Most of those projected deaths will occur in low and middle-income countries, where the tobacco industry has shifted its efforts to recruit new smokers.
ASH played a major role in ensuring that these rounds of negotiations were successful by coordinating and leading the work of the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), an alliance of more than 500 non-governmental organizations from more than 100 countries dedicated to ending the global tobacco epidemic.
The outcomes of the week in Moscow will save hundreds of millions of lives if governments work to implement them immediately.
A key outcome of the week was the adoption of guidelines that will assist governments in their efforts to apply taxes on tobacco products more effectively. It is generally accepted that raising the price of tobacco products, including through tax increases, is the most effective way to cut tobacco usage, and to discourage young people from trying smoking.
One recent study found that tripling the excise tax on tobacco worldwide would reduce smoking by 1/3, avoid over 200 million premature deaths, and raise US$100 billion more in revenue.
The Guidelines that were just adopted recommend that countries establish coherent long-term policies on their tobacco taxation structure. They are based on the principle that countries “should implement the simplest and most efficient system that meets their public health and fiscal needs, and taking into account their national circumstances.”
ASH’s Executive Director, who also leads the FCA stated that at the end of the treaty negotiations “Countries that are Parties to the FCTC have been working on guidelines for four years. Meanwhile, South Africa, Brazil, France, the Philippines and the United Kingdom are just some of the countries that have raised tobacco taxes and reduced smoking and the diseases and deaths that it causes”. He also added that, “Other countries must now follow suit, if we are to have any hope of the world reaching the 30 percent tobacco use reduction target by 2025.”
ASH will continue to coordinate the international coalition in order to accelerate the implementation of the global tobacco treaty in order to prevent millions of unnecessary deaths caused by tobacco.
For more information about ASH’s work around the treaty please visit http://ash.org/programs/tobacco-treaty/