The Global Tobacco Epidemic and the Law

The Global Tobacco Epidemic and the Law

Edited by Andrew D. Mitchell and Tania Voon

Tobacco use represents a critical global health challenge. The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco kills nearly 6 million people a year, with the toll expected to rise to 8 million annually over the next two decades. Written by health and legal experts from institutions around the globe, The Global Tobacco Epidemic and the Law examines the key areas of domestic and international law affecting the regulation of tobacco.

Chapter 2: The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Tobacco Free Initiative

Katherine DeLand, Gemma Lien and Heather Wipfli

Subjects: law - academic, health law, international economic law, trade law, international investment law


Tobacco use is one of the most serious public health threats facing the global population. Nearly 6 million deaths per year – one every 6 seconds – are attributable to tobacco use, and one out of every ten adult deaths is tobacco-related. More than 5 million of those deaths are due to direct tobacco use, while 600_000 are attributable to exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. The total number is expected to rise to 8.3 million by 2030. Most tobacco-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and all of them are preventable. In 1996, recognising the critical nature of the tobacco-related health crisis, the member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to take concerted action, adopting Resolution 49.17, which initiated development of a ‘framework convention on tobacco control’. Under article 19 of the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO Constitution), the WHO has the legal authority to develop binding treaties on health-relevant issues. Exercising this power for the first time in its history, an intergovernmental negotiating body comprising all the WHO member states was established in 1999, and the treaty – the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) – was finalised and adopted in 2003. As the first legally binding, coordinated global health governance response to non-communicable disease, the WHO FCTC marks a watershed in public health history. This chapter explores the development and negotiation of the WHO FCTC, as well as the core elements of the treaty’s final text.

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