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WHO convention launches project to strengthen tobacco control

Developing countries are all set to get a boost in their tobacco control efforts with the the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control today launching a project to strengthen implementation of the global tobacco control treaty.

Through the project, countries will be offered support to create and strengthen coordination mechanisms and action across sectors to implement the WHO FCTC, including treaty obligations to ban tobacco advertising and promotion, ensure tobacco packaging has health warnings, end smoking in enclosed public and workplaces, and increase tobacco taxes among others.

The five-year project will open call for expressions of interest inviting LMIC governments wishing to join implementation from 2017 and will be delivered with the generous development funding from the United Kingdom.

“Developing countries will receive dedicated support to implement the WHO FCTC, the best instrument to ensure tobacco control worldwide that has 179 countries plus the European Union as its Parties.

“Through the new project, to be delivered by the WHO FCTC Secretariat in collaboration with UNDP and other partners, a number of low and middle-income countries (LMICs) will be eligible to receive direct support to implement tobacco control strategies and policies,” an official FCTC statement said.

This emerged on the second day of the Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) to World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which India is hosting for the first time.

The statement said that if current tobacco use patterns persist, tobacco will kill about 1 billion people in the 21st Century and by 2030, over 80 per cent of the world’s tobacco-related mortality will be in LMICs.

“The treaty is an evidence-based blueprint for tobacco control policies. Tobacco use will be reduced if a country has a high level of WHO FCTC implementation,” the statement said.

The significant harms of tobacco use on developing countries are usually understood primarily as health issue and this overlooks the extensive impact of tobacco on social, economic and environmental progress.

Tobacco control is a development issue and its success

relies on the work of other sectors such as commerce, trade, finance, justice and education. That is why the international community agreed to include the implementation of the WHO FCTC in the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it said.

In promoting the new project, the Head of the FCTC Secretariat Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva said that the implementation of the WHO FCTC is critical in advancing sustainable development.

“Through the new project, we will take implementation of the WHO FCTC to a new level by providing support and guidance to developing country parties,” Silva said.

Douglas Webb, Team Leader on Health and Innovative Financing at the UN Development Programme said that there is growing recognition that current tobacco trends and sustainable development cannot coexist.

“As a committed partner, UNDP welcomes this opportunity to advance tobacco control through better support to national planning, good governance and protection against tobacco industry interference in policy making,” he said.

The statement said that the full implementation of the WHO FCTC in low-and middle-income countries is “impeded” without the integration of tobacco control into broader development agendas such as food and water security, environment, the right to education and human rights.

Joint UN work at country level has also revealed a demand from Parties to the Convention for support in a number of areas related to social and economic development.

“Although well represented with two targets under Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health and wellbeing (reduction by one-third of premature mortality from NCDs and full implementation of the WHO FCTC)…,

“The overall success of Agenda 2030 depends on successful tobacco control – and thus integrating tobacco control into the other SDGs and their targets,” the statement said

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