News Releases

November 30, 2004

“Forty reasons to cheer.  Five million reasons to mourn.”
Doctors applaud 40th ratification of global tobacco treaty .

(Ottawa) – The ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) by forty countries, including Canada, is an occasion for global celebration, says Canada’s physician based tobacco control organization, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC). 

“Now that 40 countries have ratified, the treaty will enter into force in the beginning of March 2005,” said Dr. Atul Kapur, president of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. “This is an historic moment not only because the FCTC is the first modern public health treaty.  This is also a great step forward in the globalization of public health law and the control of the world’s leading cause of preventable death.”

Although tobacco use is declining in Canada, smoking rates are rapidly growing in the developing world.  Tobacco is already responsible for one in ten adults deaths world wide.  The number people killed by tobacco is expected to double to 10 million  within the next 20 years, with seven in ten of those deaths in developing countries. 

“Like HIV/AIDS (which currently kills 3 million worldwide), tobacco is a rapidly spreading pandemic in the poorest parts of the world,” said Dr. Kapur.  “Unlike HIV/AIDS, tobacco use is deliberately spread by people who seek to make profit from the addiction and early death of others.”  The spread of tobacco use has been fuelled by the growth of transnational tobacco companies, international marketing, the removal of trade barriers and other facets of globalization.

“This tobacco treaty is a globalized response to this problem of globalization,” said Dr. Kapur.  The treaty requires and supports countries in ending tobacco promotions, protecting the public from second-hand smoke, and requiring that cigarettes are sold with prominent health warnings.  It also requires countries to cooperate and assist in the achievement of tobacco control measures.

Dr. Kapur congratulated the Minister of Health for ensuring that Canada was one of the first 40 countries to ratify the treaty. "The efforts of Mr. Dosanjh in obtaining timely cabinet support are greatly appreciated."  

The Canadian government was a strong supporter of the treaty during its development, and Canada was the only country to provide ongoing financial support for the participation of civil society organizations in treaty negotiations.

 “We hope that Canada will continue to display leadership in the crucial next steps of the treaty,” said Dr. Kapur.  “Tobacco companies will be up to their usual tricks in trying to delay or weaken the implementation of the treaty. Support from Canada in the form of financial and technical assistance and in the form of high standards of implementation are badly needed to ensure that the treaty does not flounder at this critical juncture.”

- 30 -

For information:  Cynthia Callard, 613 233 4878