World No Tobacco Day

6/3/2011 // On World No Tobacco Day, the Permanent Missions of Norway, Thailand and Uruguay to the UN hosted a luncheon to celebrate to celebrate the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world's answer to the tobacco epidemic.

As a curtain raiser for the High Level Meeting (HLM) on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) 19-20 September, this event focused on tobacco use as the leading preventable cause of death. Tobacco has a major impact on the prevalence / incidence of NCDs, and is therefore also a big contributor to a country’s health burden, with tremendous economic consequences for households and governmental budgets.

The speakers were:

Commissioner Marjorie Tiven, representing Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City
Mr. Bloomberg donated in 2006 USD 125 million to work on tobacco prevention in low- and middle income countries. The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use was followed up in 2008 with an additional USD 250 million.

Patricia Lambert, Framework Convention Alliance,
Director of the International Legal Consortium which is part of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
“Tobacco control from an African perspective”
Developing countries are struggling to effectively implement and enforce evidence based tobacco control. How far has political commitment taken us - from an NGO point of view? Some examples from Africa.

Professor Prabhat Jha, MD, DPhil, University of Toronto Chair in Disease Control
“Death and (tobacco) taxes”
How can higher tobacco taxes rapidly reduce premature tobacco deaths? How can tax revenues be used to enable poor countries to finance their own development? Do higher taxes hurt or help the poor smoker? Presentation and examples of best practices.

Dr Haik Nikogosian, Head of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat
How best to support the Parties to the Convention on Tobacco Control in fulfilling their obligations under the Convention? Challenges and opportunities.

Joseph Deiss, President of the UN General Assembly
Closing remarks

His statement can be read here.


Tobacco use is estimated to cause 5.4 million deaths annually. If present trends continue, this toll is projected to rise to over eight million deaths per year by 2030, with 80 percent of those deaths occurring in the developing world where tobacco use is increasing. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use has killed 100 million people during the 20th century, and it could kill 1 billion during the 21st century.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), in force since 2005, represents a major achievement in the advancement of public health. With 172 Parties, it is already one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in the history of the United Nations. The Framework Convention confers legal obligations on its Parties which in many ways contradict the interests of the Tobacco industry. Full implementation of the Convention and strong anti-tobacco legislation is essential, but is put on risk when confronted with pressure from big tobacco companies, as is the case in Philip Morris’s lawsuits against Uruguay and Norway.

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