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WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Adoption of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Health Minister Annette King says New Zealand can take great pride in yesterday’s adoption by the World Health Assembly in Geneva of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“Many countries approached me at the WHA to say what a good job New Zealand has done with its enthusiasm and dedication throughout the negotiation process,” she said.

“New Zealand is well-known as a world leader in tobacco control, dating back to when Helen Clark was Minister of Health”.

“The recognition New Zealand has received owes much to the tireless advocacy and negotiating skills of Government officials and non-government organisations, like the Maori Smoke-free Coalition, Cancer Society and ASH.”

Ms King also praised WHO Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland and the WHO Secretariat for their leadership. “And I particularly want to thank Brazil for its fine work in chairing the intergovernmental negotiating body”.

The Convention represented a real milestone in global public health, Ms King said.

The text recognises “that a comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship will significantly reduce consumption,” she said.

“It also recognises the need to reduce smoking among indigenous people, and recognises unequivocally that second-hand smoke causes death, disability and disease.

“It is estimated that 20 million people have died around the world in the four years that it has taken for nations to come to agreement on the Convention, and that the figure of 4.9 million deaths a year will double in the next 20 years if current trends continue.

“That’s why New Zealand applauds the nations of the world who have worked together to give priority to the health of people.”

Ms King said she hoped New Zealand would ratify the Treaty by the end of this year, or early next year.

“To comply we have to change the labelling of tobacco products to include slightly larger warnings on all products, but overall New Zealand has been at the forefront of tobacco control for some time.”

New Zealand and Australia had also worked with smaller Pacific neighbours, funding two inter-sessional meetings on the Convention, and with NZAid funding a tobacco control project on the Cook Islands and Tonga.

“This Convention represents a minimum standard that we should all strive to exceed.”

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