World's physicians make final plea for tobacco control treaty

The World Medical Association has made a final plea for governments to support the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The deadline for signing the treaty is next Tuesday (June 29) and the WMA has called on all its 83 national medical association members to urge them to press their governments and their Ministers of Health to sign the treaty in the next few days if they have not already done so, and to ratify as soon as possible. The treaty will only come into force if a minimum of 40 nations have ratified it. To date, 21 countries have ratified it.

Dr Yoram Blachar, chairman of the WMA Council, said: 'This is the world's first public health treaty and its purpose quite simply is to combat the terrible toll of five million deaths from tobacco each year'.

'Unless we act now that figure will rise to 10 million by the year 2020. We want to see the tobacco control measures contained in this treaty implemented by all parties through domestic law. We have a duty as physicians to protect our patients and to protect future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco use.'

The treaty, which is legally binding, is designed to reduce the demand for and the supply of tobacco. Once it takes effect, the treaty requires partners to promote public awareness of tobacco control and promote smoking prevention and cessation by:

  • Including health warnings on packaging, possibly including pictures.
  • Banning the use of misleading and deceptive terms such as "light" and "mild".
  • Enacting comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Combating smuggling .
  • Prohibiting tobacco product sales to and by minors.
  • Protecting citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke in workplaces, public transport and indoor public places.
  • Increasing tobacco taxes.