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The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC): An international public health treaty.

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international public health treaty on tobacco control, came into force on 27 February 2005.  The treaty was unanimously adopted by WHO’s 192 Member States in May 2003.  Currently, 172 Parties (countries) have ratified the FCTC; ratification binds a Member State to implement the provisions of the treaty.  The FCTC sets out a comprehensive strategy for Parties to adopt to counter the tobacco epidemic. The FCTC recognizes the addictive nature of tobacco use as well as the role of tobacco cessation and tobacco dependence treatment. Article 14 of the FCTC states that countries shall develop evidence based treatment guidelines and take effective measures to promote adequate treatment for tobacco dependence. Specifically, Article 14 notes the following:

Demand reduction measures concerning tobacco dependence and cessation:

  1. Each Party shall develop and disseminate appropriate, comprehensive and integrated guidelines based on scientific evidence and best practices, taking into account national circumstances and priorities, and shall take effective measures to promote cessation of tobacco use and adequate treatment for tobacco dependence.
  2. Towards this end, each Party shall endeavor to:
    1. design and implement effective programs aimed at promoting the cessation of tobacco use, in such locations as educational institutions, health care facilities, workplaces and sporting environments;
    2. include diagnosis and treatment of tobacco dependence and counseling services on cessation of tobacco use in national health and education programs, plans and strategies, with the participation of health workers, community workers and social workers as appropriate;
    3. establish in health care facilities and rehabilitation centers programs for diagnosing, counseling, preventing and treating tobacco dependence; and
    4. collaborate with other Parties to facilitate accessibility and affordability for treatment of tobacco dependence including pharmaceutical products pursuant to Article 22. Such products and their constituents may include medicines, products used to administer medicines and diagnostics when appropriate.

Additional articles located within the WHO framework convention are intended and expected to encourage and support cessation efforts (e.g. Articles 6, 10 and 13, require increased taxation, more effect tobacco product disclosures, and restrictions on tobacco product promotion, respectively, that should encourage and support cessation).

Importantly, a recent estimate revealed  that 7.4 million premature deaths could be prevented as a result of 41 countries implementing the evidence-based tobacco control practices listed in the WHO framework convention (i.e., monitoring tobacco use and tobacco control policies; protecting people from the dangers of tobacco smoke; offering help to quit tobacco; warning the public about the dangers of tobacco; enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising tobacco taxes) (Levy et al., 2013).

Levy DT, Ellis JA, Mays D, Huang AT. Smoking-related deaths averted due to three years of policy progress. Bull World Health Organ. 2013; 91: 509-518.

World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control logo
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