Convention-cadre de lutte contre le tabac
Genève - 21 mai 2003

Organisation Mondiale de la Santé

UICC Hails Adoption of Tobacco Treaty by Nations of the World

Geneva, Switzerland (May 21, 2003) ­ The International Union Against Cancer (UICC) hailed the adoption of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) at the World Health Assembly today as a monumental achievement. The treaty will now be open for signature and ratification beginning next month, and may enter into force as soon as next year.

“The world now stands united on the need for strong action to reduce tobacco use,” said Dr. John R. Seffrin, President of UICC. “This treaty represents a triumph of public health over the concerted efforts of the world’s largest tobacco companies. It is a monumental achievement by the World Health Organization under the leadership of Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, and by the nations of the world.”

“This treaty will be as important in reducing deaths from tobacco use as the sanitary laws of the 19th Century were in controlling cholera and infectious disease,” said Dr. Yussuf Saloojee, UICC Strategic Leader for Tobacco Control. “However, the greatest challenges now lie before us. The treaty will only be effective if it is quickly ratified and implemented by the nations of the world. UICC and its 280 member organizations are working tirelessly toward that goal.”

The FCTC, the world’s first-ever public health treaty, embraces all elements of a comprehensive tobacco control agenda. The treaty requires ratifying nations to eliminate all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, with a narrow exception for nations whose constitutions prohibit a complete ban; requires warning labels to occupy a minimum of 30 percent of every pack of cigarettes and urges nations to adopt larger warning labels of 50 percent or more; requires the prohibition of misleading tobacco product descriptors such as “light” and “mild”; commits nations to protecting nonsmokers from tobacco smoke in public places; urges strict regulation of tobacco product contents; and calls for higher tobacco taxes, global coordination to fight tobacco smuggling, and promotion of tobacco prevention, cessation and research programs.

Tobacco use is estimated to have killed 100 million people in the 20th Century and is expected to claim the lives of ten times that number -- one billion people - - in this century, based on current trends. The burden of disease and death is shifting rapidly to low income nations as most high income nations are implementing effective tobacco control policies.

Dr. Seffrin and Dr. Saloojee were especially pleased that all the major tobacco- producing nations supported adoption of the treaty by the World Health Assembly. The United States and Germany had threatened to raise objections at the World Health Assembly and to reopen the text for negotiation. In the face of strong opposition from other nations, both nations supported adoption of the treaty without modification.

Editor’s Note:

About UICC

Founded in 1933, UICC is the only international cancer organisation committed exclusively to fighting cancer in every country of the world. As the largest independent non-profit, non-governmental association of 280 cancer-fighting organizations in 90 countries, UICC is the catalyst for responsible dialogue and collective action. UICC represents a wide range of organizations in the global campaign against cancer including advocacy groups, patient support networks, voluntary cancer societies, public health authorities, and research and treatment centres.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Yussuf Saloojee
UICC Strategic Leader Tobacco Control
Telephone +27 11 643 2958

Ms. Brooke Girard
UICC, Head of Communications
3 rue du Conseil General
1205 Geneva, Switzerland
Telephone +41 22 809 1875