ASH Webinar on Endgame for Tobacco: The World We Want
June 11, 2020

Statement from Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Managing Attorney at ASH

I wanted to give you all a quick overview of the tobacco treaty- the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization. It’s an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.

It was the fastest ratified treaty in UN history, and today 181 countries around the world are party to the treaty. One notable exception is the United States, which has not ratified the treaty. The US participated in all the negotiations of the FCTC, and adopted it in 2003 by consensus along with all of the other WHO Member States, and signed it in May 2004, but hasn’t yet ratified it. The US participates in observes the treaty processes but cannot vote and cannot participate in negotiations, and it has no influence on the process as a non Party. We have a lot of Americans on this webinar, so I want to emphasize that while the U.S. hasn’t ratified, we can still use the FCTC for advocacy. It shows world wide best practices and can be very compelling in your advocacy.

There are obviously many issues to deal with around tobacco control, but they can mostly be boiled down to two main issues: supply and demand. Most of the FCTC articles are centered around demand.

The core demand reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are contained in articles 6-14:

Article 6 Price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco

Article 7 Non-price measures to reduce the demand for tobacco

Article 8 Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke

Article 9 Regulation of the contents of tobacco products

Article 10 Regulation of tobacco product disclosures

Article 11 Packaging and labelling of tobacco products

Article 12 Education, communication, training and public awareness

Article 13 Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

Article 14 Demand reduction measures concerning tobacco dependence and cessation

The core supply reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are contained in articles 15-17:

Article 15 Illicit trade in tobacco products

Article 16 Sales to and by minors

Article 17 Provision of support for economically viable alternative activities

There are two additional provisions that are important for an endgame discussion- one that is mentioned fairly frequently and one that is hardly ever discussed.

The first is Article 5.3, which is a general obligation for state parties. Article 5.3 states that “In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.” Wanda is going to discuss how important this can be in ending the tobacco epidemic.

Article 2.1 is hardly ever brought up, even by people that frequently work with the FCTC. Article 2.1 states “In order to better protect human health, Parties are encouraged to implement measures beyond those required by this Convention and its protocols, and nothing in these instruments shall prevent a Party from imposing stricter requirements that are consistent with their provisions and are in accordance with international law. “ This clearly indicates that the FCTC is meant to be a floor, not a ceiling, and that governments are encouraged to go beyond the provisions of the FCTC. Chris Bostic is going to talk more about what that looks later in the webinar.


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