The World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) entered into force in February 2005 and is setting the agenda for national tobacco regulatory priorities in most countries of the world.
192 governments negotiated the FCTC and 168 became signatories - indicating an intention to become a Party. Currently 174 are Parties, signifying that they either have, or soon will have, national laws in place to implement the FCTC as they interpret it.
The FCTC provides countries that ratify it with a global policy framework for addressing tobacco issues locally. Governments will over time consider updating their local legislation, reflecting their interpretation of the FCTC and their own circumstances and priorities.
British American Tobacco say don’t exclude the responsible tobacco industry
As one of the world’s leading tobacco groups, British American Tobacco offered our views on the FCTC over the several years of its development, although regrettably British American Tobacco were given little opportunity to make meaningful input. At an early stage, the WHO publicly stated: “The tobacco industry, its trade associations and key allies should be kept from the negotiating process.”
Yet in many areas, our goals and the goals of the WHO policymakers have common ground. In an early submission to the WHO, British American Tobacco outlined progressive proposals for a regulatory approach to the fundamental issues surrounding tobacco use, including preventing under-age smoking, developing potentially less risky products and ensuring appropriate marketing standards. British American Tobacco highlighted our willingness to help governments in delivering a radical, yet workable agenda for ‘a quantum leap’ towards reducing the net public health impact of tobacco.
As governments now look to interpret the FCTC into their own laws, British American Tobacco will continue to offer constructive views and solutions. British American Tobacco believe that there is much to be gained by including the responsible tobacco industry in the regulatory process, along with considering the views and impacts on tobacco growers, consumers and other related industries.
What the FCTC addresses
Key areas covered by the FCTC include:
Promotion and sponsorship: The FCTC advocates a complete ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. British American Tobacco believes tobacco companies should be able to communicate responsibly with adult tobacco consumers.
Taxes: The FCTC says higher taxes on tobacco products will discourage people from smoking. It also advocates the ending of duty-free sales. British American Tobacco believe that while higher prices may discourage some people from smoking, sharply rising prices also fuel the black market and the actual impact on consumption may be small.
Illicit trade: The FCTC calls for the elimination of the illegal trade in tobacco products and is working on an anti-illicit trade protocol, which British American Tobacco strongly support.
Second-hand smoke: The FCTC says second-hand smoke is a major public health risk and calls for protection of non-smokers in enclosed public places. British American Tobacco support regulation that accommodates the interests of both non-smokers and smokers and that limits non-smokers’ involuntary exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. British American Tobacco favour restrictions on smoking in enclosed public places and British American Tobacco accept that there needs to be regulation. British American Tobacco support practical initiatives such as the creation of smoke free areas, combined with adequate provision for smokers.
Health risks information: The FCTC advocates a range of measures including health warnings that cover at least 30 per cent of the principal display area of a pack and a ban on terms such as “light” and “mild”. British American Tobacco fully accepts the importance of accurate, clear health messages being provided about the risks of tobacco consumption. In our view, the message that smoking is associated with real risks of serious diseases should be reinforced, so that informed choices can continue to be made. British American Tobacco believes that relevant health authorities should be the prime public voice in providing this important information. British American Tobacco ensure that all our advertising, cigarette packs and primary packaging carry a clearly visible health warning, even where this is not required by law, and our companies communicate about the health risks of smoking through various media. See Health and science.
What the FCTC misses
Given the WHO’s mandate, it is disappointing that the FCTC does not address either the development of a less harmful cigarette or the regulation of products that are already available, such as smokeless Swedish-style snus. Using snus is acknowledged by some independent health experts to be at least 90 per cent less harmful than smoking cigarettes.
British American Tobacco thinks it’s important to continue working towards consumer-acceptable, less harmful products. Read our views on why harm reduction needs to be a key element of the FCTC guidelines:
- Harm reduction and the FCTC (353 kb)