Key Issues

in Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

The Framework Convention, or FCTC, is an international treaty being negotiated through the World Health Organization to deal with the growing tobacco epidemic. Formal negotiations between interested countries began in the autumn of 2000, but a Working Group had already drafted large sections of possible text to serve as a basis for discussion between national delegations.

In February 2003, delegates from around the world met for their sixth and final negotiating round on the FCTC, known as INB-6. (“INB” stands for Intergovernmental Negotiating Body.) With the notable exceptions of the United States and Germany, they reached agreement on a draft treaty which is now slated to go to the World Health Assembly in May for final approval.

Some of the important elements of the treaty are:

  • A “comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship”, as long as such a ban is “in accordance with [a country’s] constitution or constitutional principles”, within five years after the treaty comes into effect. (Article 13)
  • Within three years of the treaty’s coming into force, a ban on “any term, descriptor, trademark, figurative or other sign that directly or indirectly creates the false impression that a particular tobacco product is less harmful than other tobacco products” — likely including the terms ‘light’ and ‘mild’. (Article 11. 1. (a) )
  • Also within three years, “large, clear, visible and legible” warnings on all outside packaging of tobacco products, with a minimum of 30% of the principal display surfaces, but a recommendation of 50% or more, as in Canada. (Article 11. 1. (b) ).
  • A recognition that “scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability”, and that people need to be protected from exposure to tobacco smoke in “indoor workplaces, public transport, indoor public places and, as appropriate, other public places.” (Article 8)

The complete text of the draft treaty is available on the WHO website (in PDF format).

Canada had a large governmental and non-governmental delegation at all six negotiating rounds — including (at INB-2 through INB-5) a representative of the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, which is part of an ad-hoc group of Canadian health groups that have worked for a strong FCTC.

NSRA is also part of the Framework Convention Alliance, an international coalition of NGOs interested in promoting a strong FCTC. The FCA site contains numerous briefing documents about various aspects of the FCTC, as well as all issues of the FCA bulletin, which NSRA helped edit.

SHAF and NSRA prepared two briefs on the FCTC:


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