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