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Ratification of Framework Convention on Tobacco

Ratification of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control a step closer

Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor says the Government will continually improve tobacco control as it moves towards ratifying the World Health Organization-sponsored Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

New Zealand needs to increase the size of health warnings on tobacco products within three years of ratification to comply with the FCTC, and the Cabinet has asked health officials to review health warnings on tobacco products, including the size of warnings, pictorial warnings, and the use of terms that may be misleading.

"We are already a world-leader in tobacco control. The FCTC will strengthen our commitment. It is a major global public health agreement aimed at significantly reducing tobacco-related death and disease. We all support that, " says Mr O’Connor.

“New Zealand already meets almost all packaging and labelling minimum requirements under Article 11 of the FCTC through the Smoke-Free Environments Act 1990 and Smoke-Free Environments Regulations 1999, but the FCTC requires health warnings and messages to cover no less than 30 percent of the principal display areas of tobacco packets, and ideally 50 percent or more.

“Warnings on many products here nearly meet the minimum 30 percent level, but ratification will commit the government to ensure that all products meet this minimum level within three years. The wider review will allow us to determine the optimal warnings and other information for display on all tobacco products.”

Mr O’Connor says it is possible even larger warnings may be warranted. “Some countries, like Canada, require 50 percent of the front and back of tobacco packages to carry pictorial warnings, but any legislative proposals would require consultation.

“Continually improving tobacco control will no doubt give rise to future policy initiatives relating to non-mandatory provisions in the FCTC, or even beyond its scope. Because of this, the Government will consult widely and effectively on all future policy and legislative changes."

The next stage of this process involves tabling the FCTC and a National Interest Analysis in Parliament, and referral of those documents to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee for consideration.

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