agreements to oppose governments' efforts to protect the
health of their citizens. For example, Philip Morris
International has challenged Uruguay's graphic health
warnings and restrictions on cigarette packages under the
bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between Switzerland and
Uruguay. Given such actions, negotiators of the TPP and TTIP
must seriously consider the advice of civil society advocates
to exempt tobacco from the final agreements. Governments
must ensure that trade and investment agreements are not
used to undermine their public health policies, including
measures to combat the tobacco epidemic. Carving tobacco
out of trade rules can be an essential tactic to save millions of
lives, especially in developing countries vulnerable to the
tobacco industry's political pressure and marketing tactics.
If the global community is serious about implementing
strategies to tackle the tobacco epidemic, there is another
timely opportunity for reversing current trends.
With less than two years until the current UN Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) expire, governments have begun
discussing what development goals they should be trying to
achieve after 2015. The post-2015 development agenda,
which will determine a new set of sustainable development
goals (SDGs), provides a unique opportunity to remind world
leaders about their health commitments and the need to
focus on reducing the global toll caused by tobacco. Tobacco
was left out of the MDGs. This was a missed opportunity to
raise awareness amongst policy-makers about the tobacco
epidemic and it limited the development resources that were
devoted to implementing the tobacco control measures in the
FCTC. However, the SDGs will focus on sustainable
development, and given that tobacco use impacts nearly all
areas of sustainable development - including health,
economic development, environmental sustainability and
social inclusion - supporting public health measures to
reduce tobacco prevalence should be a key strategy to
accelerating sustainable development.
The groundwork has been laid. United Nations Member
States could make tobacco control a global development
priority by including in the SDGs, under an overarching health
goal, the World Health Assembly target of a 30% relative
reduction in tobacco prevalence by the year 2025.
Implementing the FCTC's measures would be the next step.
These include increasing the price of tobacco products,
comprehensively banning tobacco advertising, promotion
and sponsorship, providing access to tobacco dependence
treatment, requiring smoke-free public spaces, and
mandating large, effective pictorial health warnings on
In 2003, the world's governments were unanimous in their
decision to confront the tobacco epidemic by adopting the
WHO FCTC. Unfortunately, that decision has not been
universally implemented by governments and via
intergovernmental processes. It is well past time that it was,
and that stakeholders stopped recognizing "Big Tobacco" as
just another industry and started seeing it for what it truly is:
the vector for the world's Number One cause of preventable
death. Left unchecked, the tobacco epidemic risks
undermining the progress made in global development over
the past 50 years.
If governments are willing to exempt tobacco out of trade
agreements, address the tobacco epidemic as a key
development priority in the post-2015 development agenda,
and accelerate the implementation of the FCTC, it is very
likely that we can move the tipping point in favour of health
and save hundreds of millions of lives. l
Laurent Huber, MS Ed is the Director of the Framework
Convention Alliance, a coalition of over 350 non-governmental
organizations in over 100 countries, widely recognized for its
vital role in shaping the WHO Framework Convention on
Tobacco Control, and the Director of Action on Smoking and
Health; a United States-based organization that supports
international tobacco control efforts.
Laurent holds a Master's of Science and has directed a
number of nonprofit organizations that addressed the
prevention of non-communicable diseases.
42 CANCER CONTROL 2014
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