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News Releases

February 25, 2005

Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco

Landmark Tobacco Treaty Takes Effect on February 27th

 (Ottawa) - Sunday, February 27th 2005 is an historic moment for global public health. On this day, the world’s first modern health treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), comes into force.

“This is a day to celebrate the achievement of the first modern public health treaty and the leadership of Canada in its development,” said Ken Kyle of the Canadian Cancer Society. The FCTC requires a comprehensive tobacco ad ban (except in countries with constitutional impediments), large package warnings and protection against second-hand smoke, among other measures.

The World Health Organization states that tobacco is, with HIV/AIDS, the fastest growing cause of death in the developing world and predicts that the number of tobacco-caused deaths will double from 5 million to 10 million a year by the year 2020. Seventy per cent of those deaths will be in developing countries. The FCTC comes into force three months after it has been ratified by 40 countries.  Canada ratified the treaty on November 26, 2004, shortly before the 40th ratification occurred. Currently, 168 countries have signed and 57 have ratified.

“Canada was a leader in the development of the treaty,” said Dr. Atul Kapur of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. “The Government of Canada was an early supporter of the treaty, pioneered many of the treaty measures (like picture health warnings), and promoted effective measures during treaty negotiations.”

”This is a day to look forward to a time when one in six of the world’s population is no longer addicted to tobacco industry products and one-in-ten is no longer killed by them,” said Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

“The treaty will help countries put in place the comprehensive policy measures which have been proven effective at reducing smoking,” Brown said. Apart from ad curbs and health warnings, the Convention requires ratifying countries to end misleading packaging and advertising.  Other FCTC measures include protecting the public from second-hand smoke, using taxes to reduce consumption, curbing cigarette smuggling and supporting smokers who want to quit.

The Convention also aims to increase research collaboration and support to developing countries for implementing effective tobacco control measures. “Because the treaty establishes minimum standards in a number of areas, and encourages countries to go even further than their treaty commitments, it will provide for continuing progress against this global public health problem,” Brown added.

“This is a day to ask, what more can Canada do to make this treaty work?”, said Francis Thompson of the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association.

 “The Framework Convention offers great promise that the spread of tobacco use can be contained,” said Thompson. “But the treaty will be less effective if countries with both expertise and resources — like Canada — fail to support and assist the developing world in implementing the treaty provisions.”

“It has only recently become widely recognized that tobacco is a major health problem for developing countries, and a major financial drain, particularly for the poorest of the poor. Having played a major role in convincing developing country governments of the need to tackle this issue, Canada now has a moral obligation to ‘walk the talk’ and supply meaningful assistance,” said Thompson.

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Contacts:

Ken Kyle                  613 565-2522 extension 301

Cynthia Callard         613 233 4878  or cell (613) 850-5594

Manuel Arango          613 569 4361 extension 328

Francis Thompson,    (613) 230-4211 or cell (613) 355-6532.


 

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