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 3: Guidelines and protocols under the framework convention

Chang-fa Lo

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


The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international health treaty concluded under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO). It is designed to control, reduce and, hopefully, eliminate the production, transportation, sale and consumption of tobacco products. The WHO FCTC embodies a ‘framework convention’ approach. Although there are some substantive rights and obligations included in the convention itself, for many aspects of tobacco control, the treaty identifies only general principles, which are not specific enough to require parties to adopt particular measures or policies. Thus the main contents of the WHO FCTC are to be supplemented by additional legal instruments. Parties have to adopt additional legal instruments under the WHO FCTC so as to implement the principles set forth in the convention. The parties have adopted a protocol and various sets of guidelines implementing aspects of the WHO FCTC. For some subject matters, parties decided to adopt guidelines to implement the WHO FCTC. For others, they concluded a protocol. It is important to clarify the difference between guidelines and protocols under the WHO FCTC and the policy choice for having some matters dealt with by guidelines and others subject to a protocol. It is also important to note that there are policy and legal implications arising from the use of guidelines or protocols for the effective control of tobacco use and for the interpretation of other international agreements that affect the operation of the WHO FCTC.

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