What is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control?
Tobacco use has devastating health and economic impacts, and is a worldwide epidemic. There are serious consequences for public health from tobacco, so an international response of cooperation was required to protect people from harm.
This response was the FCTC. It was the first treaty negotiated by the parties with the help, support and protection of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The aim of the treaty is to protect present and future generations from the devastating consequences of tobacco use, and exposure to tobacco smoke.
It provides a framework of evidence-based tools for countries to establish tobacco control measures at national, regional and international levels.
Tobacco control measures under the FCTC include:
- price and tax policies
- bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
- packaging and labelling requirements
- protection from exposure to second-hand smoke
- education and public awareness measures
- regulation of tobacco product contents and disclosures
- treatment for tobacco dependence
- measures to combat illicit trade
The treaty also provides for international cooperation to support tobacco control, including scientific, technical and legal cooperation and information sharing.
As of July 2014 179, of the 196 countries in the world, had signed up to the FCTC, making it one of the most widely adopted treaties in the United Nations system.
NZ signed FCTC in June 2003 and was 7th in the world to make the treaty official, in January 2004.
What has New Zealand done about its FCTC obligations?
The New Zealand government has committed to a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025. To achieve this, and comply with FCTC we have introduced:
- smokefree school and early childhood centre buildings and grounds
- smokefree indoors areas, pubs, bars, workplaces licensed premises
- tobacco no longer visible in retailer’s stores
- smokefree enforcement officers able to fine stores selling tobacco to minors
- a national Quitline, to support people trying to quit
- health warnings on packs
- smokefree outdoor areas, such as playgrounds and parks, which councils are starting to introduce
Plain packaging of tobacco products legislation passed a first reading in parliament, and was recommended by the Health Select committee. It is now awaiting a second reading in parliament, to introduce tobacco packaging without branding, logos, identifying colours. All packaging will be the same, with health warnings and Quitline information, and just brand name, all text looking the same.