News release

  Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
Canadian Cancer Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation

Friday, February 28, 2003

New Global Tobacco Treaty Welcomed

Geneva, Switzerland – Representatives of Canadian health agencies today congratulated the World Health Organization and its member states for the hard-fought culmination of negotiations towards the Framework Convention and Tobacco Control (FCTC).

“This treaty clearly represents an important global response to the globalized problem of tobacco.” said Neil Collishaw of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.  “It is the first health treaty in modern times, and shows that a rules-based global system can include rules which advance and support public health.”  Fittingly, the WHO chose tobacco, the world’s leading cause of preventable death, as the focus of the first public health treaty in modern times.

The adoption of the treaty text came today at the end of 29 months and six rounds of negotiation.  The FCTC contains measures to ban or restrict tobacco advertising, require large health warnings, ban misleading descriptors, protect the public from second hand smoke, encourage tobacco tax increases, control cigarette smuggling, and support smokers who want to quit.   Other measures include research collaboration and support to developing countries in implementing effective tobacco control measures.

“The treaty will help countries put in place the comprehensive policy measures which have been proven effective at reducing smoking,” said Elinor Wilson of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. “By establishing minimum standards in a number of areas, and encouraging countries to go even further than their treaty commitments, it will provide for continuing progress against this global public health problem.”

The non-governmental delegates noted the leadership that Canada has taken in the development of this treaty.  “The Canadian presence during these negotiations strengthened the treaty in at least two major ways,” observed Rob Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society.  “Firstly, Canada has pioneered many of the measures which are included in the treaty for adoption world-wide, such as picture health warnings.  Secondly, the high respect given to the Canadian delegation allowed it to be effective in promoting stronger measures.”

 “The treaty and global tobacco control will only get stronger,” predicted Cynthia Callard of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.  “With this treaty, developing countries now have a realistic chance of getting the technical and financial help they need to implement strong domestic tobacco control policies.” 

Through Health Canada and CIDA, the government of Canada supported the participation of non-governmental organizations during FCTC negotiations, including citizens from Canada and developing countries.  “We return to Ottawa eager to discuss ways of accelerating the ratification of and implementation of this treaty,” said Elinor Wilson of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

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