Isnin, Februari 28, 2005

Tobacco Control Convention comes into force tomorrow

Tobacco Control Convention comes into force tomorrow

The World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) will enter into force tomorrow after 57 countries have declared their commitment towards it.

When the FCTC comes into force, countries which are party to it are bound to translate its general provisions into national laws and regulations, WHO said in a statement today.

Malaysia has signed the pact on Sept 23, 2003, but has yet to ratify it. This means that the country need not to strictly abide to the requirements of the treaty.

The WHO FCTC has provisions that among others set international standards on tobacco price and tax increases, tobacco advertising and sponsorship, labelling, illicit trade and second-hand smoke.

“These countries, for example, will have three years from the day it enters into force for that country to implement measures to ensure that tobacco packaging has strong health warnings, or five years to establish comprehensive tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans, among others,” read the statement.

“Its entry into force is a demonstration of governments' commitment to reduce death and illness from tobacco use,” said WHO director-deneral Dr Lee Jong-wook.

“I encourage all countries to become party to this treaty, and to implement the range of measures which will make tobacco use less and less attractive to people. This can result in millions of lives saved, and that is where the real success of this treaty resides,” he added.

WHO said the FCTC comes into force, it represents a “historical moment in public health” as the treaty give countries more tools to control tobacco use and save lives.

Tobacco use expanding

“On Feb 27, the provisions of the treaty will be legally binding for the first 40 countries that became contracting parties before Nov 30 last year,” said the statement.

Seventeen more countries became party to the treaty since Nov 29 last year.

“For these, and every country which becomes party from now on, the treaty becomes legally binding 90 days after their date of deposit of the instrument of ratification or equivalent at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.”

The statement also said that tobacco use continues to expand, especially in the developing countries, where currently half of the death due to tobacco occur.

“If current trends continue, seven out of every 10 deaths due to tobacco will occur in the developing world by 2020,” the statement added.

“Tobacco is the second leading cause of death globally, causing nearly five million deaths a year. Tobacco is the only legal product that causes the death of half of its regular users. This means that out of 1.3 billion smokers, 650 million people will die prematurely.”

The WHO FCTC was unanimously adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly in May 2003. It was closed for signature on 29 June 2004 with 168 signatories, including the European Community.

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