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After twelve years of success, ASH passes FCA baton to HealthBridge

After more than a decade of successful leadership and myriad public health victories, Laurent Huber of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in the U.S. passed the leadership of the Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control (FCA) to Francis Thompson of HealthBridge Canada. The change was effective January 1, 2016.

The FCA was formed during negotiations of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to be the voice of the global public health community, and it has been lauded for its role in achieving a strong international treaty to combat the tobacco epidemic. Huber was the first director of the FCA, and he shepherded the FCA through negotiations and implementation of the first global public health treaty. Thompson has served as FCA policy director for several years.

“I regard the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as vitally important for global health and, without a doubt, the role of the FCA in motivating, organizing and coordinating the input of civil society into the treaty-making process was crucial to its success,” stated Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General, World Health Organization, 1998-2003.

The FCTC was conceived at a time when multinational tobacco companies were moving into low income countries in earnest, seeing potential profits from populations who, unlike in the high income counties, had not been educated on the dangers of smoking. The World Health Organization estimates that, without dramatic changes, tobacco will claim one billion lives in the 21st century. The FCTC is meant to be that dramatic change.

Early in the FCTC negotiations, ASH made the decision to commit itself to go beyond domestic US tobacco control and confront Big Tobacco on the world stage. At the time, there was no global civil society movement to combat tobacco. The FCA was formed to combine the voices of dozens (later hundreds) of public health groups to demand strong global action. ASH played a critical role in forming the informal coalition. FCA was later incorporated in Geneva, Switzerland in 2003, with Mr. Huber as its director. Today, FCA includes over 500 organizations from over 100 countries.

The FCA became a broad civil society coalition widely recognized by governments, non-governmental organizations, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations for its vital role in shaping the FCTC, the first global public health treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO.

During the past 15 years, the global tobacco control community experienced several successes.

• The FCTC entered into force on February 27, 2005 in near record time for a UN treaty. The FCTC now has 180 Parties and 168 Signatories.
• Guidelines for implementation of 8 Articles of the FCTC were developed and adopted: Article 5.3 (Industry Interference), Article 6 (Tax and Price Measures), Article 8 (Protection from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke), Article 9/10 (Tobacco Regulation and Disclosure), Article 11 (Packaging and Labelling), Article 12 (Communication), Article 13 (Advertising/sponsorship), and Article 14 (Cessation).
• The Protocol to Combat the Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products was negotiated and adopted.
• Many countries have effectively implemented FCTC measures, resulting in millions of humans being protected from tobacco smoke, tobacco advertising, and their associated harms.
• Tobacco was a central aspect of the UN High Level Meeting on the Treatment and Prevention of NCDs, ensuring that addressing the tobacco epidemic was a central element of the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Strategy.
• ASH and FCA worked together to influence the development of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), resulting in the integration of the FCTC and tobacco control in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

“I had the privilege to work closely with the FCA through the development of the FCTC and to witness firsthand the expertise they bring to the process of negotiating and adopting complex policy. The importance of having non-government and government agencies work together cannot be underestimated, and FCA understands very well how to influence governments to create the best possible policies,” said President Tábare Vázquez, the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, 2005 to 2010 and 2015 to present.

ASH will continue to work with the FCA and its incoming director with the aim of accelerating the implementation of the life-saving measures of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).


Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is the nation’s oldest anti-tobacco organization dedicated to health for all. ASH was formed in 1967 in response to the U.S. Surgeon General Report in order to use legal action to fight tobacco and protect nonsmokers. Today, because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH uses global tools to counter the global tobacco epidemic. Learn more about our programs at

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