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World-first tobacco treaty welcomed

Thursday 22 May, 2003

Quit Victoria has welcomed the adoption of the world's first global tobacco treaty, saying it will help governments in Australia and around the world progress measures to reduce the death and disease caused by smoking.

A meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva yesterday voted to adopt the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) after more than four years of negotiations. Now that the FCTC has been given in-principle support, countries who wish to formally ratify it can become signatories from next month.

Quit Executive Director Todd Harper says it's significant that tobacco is the focus of the first ever global health treaty.

'The adoption of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by countries around the world shows what a significant problem smoking is, both in Australia and around the world.'

'The Australian Government has been a strong supporter of this important international initiative, and we urge the Australian Government to take the next step and formally ratify the Framework Convention. We would expect the Treaty to be supported by State and Federal Governments alike.'

'This treaty provides an important opportunity for Australia to step up the game when it comes to tackling smoking.'

Under the treaty, countries who are signatories will have key obligations to address a range of issues including:

  • eliminating all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship;
  • ensuring health warning on cigarette packs take up ideally 50 percent or more of every pack of cigarettes,
  • prohibiting misleading terms to describe cigarettes such as 'light' and 'mild';
  • protecting non-smokers from tobacco smoke in workplaces and public places;
  • stricter regulation of tobacco product contents

'The Framework Convention will provide a comprehensive outline of key measures that signatories must address.'

'There are many measures in the Framework Convention that Australia doesn’t currently meet.'

'Australia needs to address issues such as ensuring all indoor workplaces are smokefree, as well as updating health warnings on cigarette packets and tightening legislation to crack down on tobacco promotion if we want to stay at the forefront,' Mr Harper said.

Mr Harper said increasing campaigns to encourage smokers to quit and providing support to help them was also a key obligation under the treaty.

'When you consider that smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in Australia, and kills over 50 Australians every day, it’s clear that Australia needs to maintain efforts to reduce the devastating effects of smoking.'

'Measures such as addressing health warnings on cigarette packs and use of misleading terms such as 'light' and 'mild' can’t come soon enough.'

'Australian’s cigarette pack warnings are currently being reviewed, and we would hope that the Federal Government will announce their decision on new pack warnings soon.'

'The Federal Government also announced a review of Australia’s Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act on May 31 last year, specifically to look at new developments in tobacco marketing such as use of email and internet.'

'The Act is now more than a decade old and has not keep pace with the tobacco industry’s use of new technology for promotional activities. A review of this legislation is long overdue, and we would hope to see speedy progress on the results of this review very soon.'

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control can be viewed online at http://tobacco.who.int/

ends

Further information:
Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager

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