Winter 2005     Vol. 13, Issue 2

On February 27, 2005, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) became international law. As the winter 2005 MONITOR “goes to press,” more than 115 countries have ratified the FCTC, the most comprehensive and far-reaching global anti-tobacco treaty to date. This issue of the MONITOR presents the elements of the FCTC and addresses the multiple challenges that lie ahead in achieving its potential.

In the lead article, Clare Dougherty and Ross Hammond from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids discuss the origins, the development and the features of the FCTC as well as the roadblocks to its ratification. The authors challenge the United States, which has yet to sign on, to ratify the treaty. In a companion article, Jonathan Polansky of Onbeyond and Dr. Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco tackle a major challenge to tobacco control — the promotional effect of on-screen smoking on the prevalence of smoking among youth. Their research shows that clearing tobacco from films would avert deaths worldwide at virtually no cost.

In the Insider’s View, Hemant Goswami from the Burning Brain Society in India presents clear evidence that anti-tobacco efforts are no match for tobacco company maneuvers in his country. He spells out a series of solutions, urging civil society activists to mount campaigns to sensitize the public and the government to the scourge of tobacco.

This issue’s Features address a problem and a solution. Dr. Maria Paz Corvalan of Chile laments the challenges that women face, especially in developing countries, where they are particular targets of tobacco industry promotions, and exemplifies a successful women’s movement to address the problem. Ruben Israel of GLOBALink demonstrates how this online tobacco-control community successfully links anti-tobacco advocates across the globe, helping them to find common ground, strengthen their resolve and pool their resources to fight the tobacco industry.

In Policy Beat, Dr. Harley Stanton from New Caledonia outlines both the public health and economic toll of tobacco use, especially among poorer nations and people. He holds out hope that national commitments inherent in the FCTC, supplemented by proposals in the World Development Report and similar authoritative documents, can dramatically change the global tobacco-control scenario.

Finally, CECHE News reports on the progress of two of CECHE’s programs, a smoking-cessation initiative to motivate Russian physicians and a communications program in a South Indian village to break women and children out of the tobacco trade.

The Framework Convention is a giant step forward in the tobacco-control movement. The challenge, as noted by our authors and many other experts, lies in persuading governments and their societies around the globe to put the FCTC principles into practice!

Sushma Palmer, D.Sc.
Chairman, CECHE

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