Today, May 21, 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) by the World Health Assembly. The FCTC is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO, and it entered into force on February 27, 2005.
To many, this may just sound like impressive legalese. Why is it important?
When the tobacco epidemic has come to an end and millions of lives have been saved, we will look back at the adoption of the FCTC for one specific thing.
It marks the beginning of the end of a deadly epidemic.
The FCTC is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. It requires its country parties to take action on a wide range of tobacco control strategies, including banning advertising, increasing taxes, protecting people from tobacco smoke, preventing illicit trade, and many others.
After its adoption by the World Health Assembly, the FCTC was opened for signature and ratification. In the year that followed, 168 countries signed the FCTC, making it one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history. The treaty currently has 182 parties and covers 90% of the world population.
The FCTC has been extremely impactful. From 2007- 2014, it is estimated that nearly 22 million future premature smoking-attributable lives were saved as a result of strong implementation of demand-reduction measures adopted by country parties to the FCTC.
At ASH, we strive to encourage full implementation of the FCTC.
In November 2023, ASH staff will lead advocacy efforts at the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) of the FCTC, the bi-annual meeting of the parties to the treaty. One of our goals will be to encourage countries to fully implement all of the measures of the FCTC, and then go even further.
The FCTC has been an amazing tool in our arsenal against the tobacco epidemic, but it should be the floor, not the ceiling.
ASH is extremely proud of our work with the FCTC and thrilled with the progress that has been made by this historic treaty, but we won’t stop calling for more progress until the tobacco epidemic is truly finished.