WHO plans roadmap to fight against tobacco use

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The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that member states are deliberating a roadmap for the global tobacco control agenda and strengthening implementation of the tobacco control treaty over the next five years.

The Conference of Parties to the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) opens its eighth session (COP 8) in Geneva on Monday, to review the progress in reducing tobacco use and strategies for addressing the emergence of new tobacco products and tobacco industry interference in tobacco control efforts.

Two dramatically different views on the best way forward in reining in smoking were on display, with organizers and activists maintaining the tobacco companies had nothing to offer, and the industry insists its new products are key to halting a smoking epidemic that causes some 7 million deaths each year.

“This is not a time to be complacent,” Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, who heads the secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), said as delegates from 137 countries gathered to discuss the treaty.

“With astronomical budgets, the tobacco industry continues its furious efforts to undermine the implementation of our treaty”

The eighth meeting of the parties to the convention since it took effect in 2005 is expected this week to focus heavily on efforts to limit influence by Big Tobacco on the proceedings.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the convention Monday as “one of the greatest public health achievements in the past 20 years”.

And the FCTC hailed “significant progress” in many of its 181 country parties in implementing the requirements of the treaty, including in creating smoke-free areas and banning advertising for tobacco products.