Every day, people around the world light up some 15 billion cigarettes. This addiction to tobacco has reached epidemic proportions, according to the World Health Organization in Geneva. In hopes of curbing the escalating health and economic toll associated with tobacco use, negotiators from around the world drafted a tobacco treaty in May at the 56th World Health Assembly. On June 16, the first day the document was open for signatures of support, 28 nations and the European Community signed on. The United States didn't.
Once ratified by the governments of 40 nations, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will become international law. It argues that "Every person should be informed of the health consequences, addictive nature and mortal threat posed by tobacco consumption and exposures." The document calls for country-by-country political action to protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke–especially children and those with compromised health.