The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is the world’s first global public health treaty. It is also the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is one of the most widely adopted treaties in the United Nations system.
The treaty entered into force in February 2005. It was signed by 168 of the 192 WHO member states and today there are more than 170 WHO member states have become Parties to the convention. The United States has not yet become a Party to the treaty.
The FCTC is a legally binding treaty that requires countries bound by the treaty or Parties to implement evidence-based measures to reduce tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. When effectively implemented, the FCTC is a powerful tool to reduce the devastating global consequences of tobacco products on health, lives and economies.
The FCTC sets out specific steps for governments addressing tobacco use, including to:
- Enact and undertake comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship;
- Ban misleading and deceptive terms on cigarette packaging such as “light”, “low-tar” and “mild”;
- Implement rotating health warnings on tobacco packaging that covers at least 30 percent (ideally 50 percent or more) of the display areas – this may include pictures or pictograms;
- Protect people from tobacco smoke exposure on public transport, and indoor work and public places;
- Adopt or maintain taxation policies aimed at reducing tobacco consumption; and
- Combat illicit trade in tobacco products. This requires monitoring, documenting and controlling product movement as well as including origin and destination information on packaging plus enacting legislation with appropriate penalties and remedies.
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