WHO Framework Convention On Tobacco Control

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It 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 rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history.

The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic and is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.

The Convention represents a milestone for the promotion of public health and provides new legal dimensions for international health cooperation.

The WHO FCTC opened for signature from 16 June to 22 June 2003 in Geneva, and thereafter at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, from 30 June 2003 to 29 June 2004. The treaty, which is now closed for signature, has 168 Signatories, including the European Union, which makes it one of the most widely embraced treaties in United Nations history.

The Convention was open to signature by all Members of the World Health Organization (WHO), all States that are not Members of WHO but are Members of the United Nations and any regional economic integration organization. All of these, may become Parties to the Convention by ratifying it.

The Convention entered into force on 27 February 2005 – 90 days after it had been acceded to, ratified, accepted, or approved by 40 States.

Currently there are 181 Parties covering more than 90% of the world population.

The package of measures agreed by countries which 45 Parties and the European Union have signed up – known as the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was developed in response to a growing illegal trade in tobacco products, often across borders.

If the global illicit trade was eliminated overnight, governments would see an immediate gain of at least $31 billion in revenue; and according to studies, beginning in 2030, more than 160,000 lives could be saved per year, that would otherwise be lost to tobacco-related illness.

So far, 45 countries have ratified the Protocol plus the European Union and many others are expected to do so over the coming months. The Protocol will enter into force on 25 September 2018.

The WHO FCTC entered into force on 27 February 2005 and has since become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history. Only WHO FCTC parties can become parties to the Protocol.

The Protocol covers all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products – any practice or conduct related to producing, shipping, receiving, being in possession of, distributing, selling or buying tobacco products, that are prohibited by law.

The Protocol aims to make the supply chain of tobacco products secure through a series of governmental measures. It requires the establishment of a global tracking and tracing regime within five years of its entry into force.

Other provisions to ensure control of the supply chain include licensing, recordkeeping requirements, and regulation of internet-sales, duty-free sales and international transit.

To address the illicit trade that already exists, the Protocol establishes new criminal guidelines, addresses liability and seizure payments, as well as the disposal of confiscated products.

Other obligations aim to boost international cooperation, with measures on information-sharing, technical and law enforcement cooperation, mutual legal and administrative assistance, and extradition.