WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)

The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. It is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms all people’s right to the highest standard of health. The WHO FCTC is a milestone in the promotion of public health and provides new legal dimensions for international health cooperation.

It is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. The WHO FCTC was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005. It has since become one of the most widely embraced treaties in United Nations history and has been ratified by 168 countries, globally. In the WHO European Region, 47 countries and the European Community are Parties.

WHO/Europe works closely with national governments and civil society to facilitate the implementation of the WHO FCTC. It organizes consultative meetings, workshops, day-to-day support to review and update national legislation and strengthening national capacity. The WHO FCTC asserts the importance of strategies to reduce both demand and supply, and provides a framework for tobacco control measures to be implemented at the national, regional and international levels. This includes actions to:

  • Protect public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry (Article 5.3)
  • Adopt price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco (Article 6)
  • Protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke (Article 8)
  • Regulate the contents of tobacco products (Article 9)
  • Regulate tobacco product disclosures (Article 10)
  • Regulate the packaging and labelling of tobacco products (Article 11)
  • Warn people about the dangers of tobacco (Article 12)
  • Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (Article 13)
  • Offer people help to end their addictions to tobacco (Article 14)
  • Control the illicit trade in tobacco products (Article 15)
  • Ban sales to and by minors (Article 16)
  • Support economically viable alternatives to tobacco growing (Article 17)

In addition, Article 7 of the Treaty requests that the Conference of the Parties (COP) propose guidelines for the implementation of the Convention, with the aim to assist Parties in meeting their obligations under the Convention.

Guidelines of WHO FCTC

At its second and third sessions, the Conference of the Parties (COP) adopted guidelines for the implementation of Articles 5.3, 8, 11 and 13 of the Convention. More recently, at the COP’s fourth session held in Uruguay in 2010, two additional guidelines on Articles 12 and 14 and partial guidelines on Articles 9 and 10 were adopted.

At its fourth session, the COP also established a working group to elaborate guidelines for the implementation of Article 6 of the Convention. Work will also continue on possible policy options and recommendations for implementation of economically sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing in relation to Articles 17 and 18.

At its second session in July 2007, the Conference of the Parties decided to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), open to all Parties, to draft and negotiate a protocol on illicit trade in tobacco products. The protocol would build upon and complement the provisions of Article 15 of the WHO FCTC.

Negotiations on a protocol will continue at a final session of the INB to be held in 2012. In order to provide an opportunity to Parties of the WHO FCTC to have some discussions prior to INB5 and CoP5 in 2012, the Office, in collaboration with the Convention Secretariat, is planning to organize regional consultations together with a national counterpart meeting in the end of 2011.