Tobacco treaty on its way

On Nov. 30, 2004, Peru became the 40th country to ratify the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (SN: 7/5/03, p. 14: Available to subscribers at Tobacco treaty penned). As a result, the accord will soon become international law. Officials of WHO, a United Nations agency, say the convention is one of the most rapidly embraced U.N. treaties of all time.

As of Feb. 28, parties to the treaty must begin implementing antismoking policies, including high taxes on tobacco, restrictions on smoking in public buildings or public transportation, and labeling that describes the health hazards of tobacco products. Furthermore, member nations must conduct research into alternative crops for tobacco farmers, the incidence of smoking and tobacco-related diseases, and factors that motivate people to smoke.

Tobacco is the second-leading cause of death in the world, according to WHO Director General Lee Jong-wook in Geneva. “Half of the people who smoke today—that is about 650 million people—will eventually be killed by tobacco,” he notes. Ratifying nations include Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, and Singapore—but not the United States or the European Union.

Janet Raloff is the Editor, Digital of Science News Explores, a daily online magazine for middle school students. She started at Science News in 1977 as the environment and policy writer, specializing in toxicology. To her never-ending surprise, her daughter became a toxicologist.

More Stories from Science News on Humans