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Global restrictions on tobacco advertising and sponsorship and reduction of exposure to cigarette smoke: 180 countries agree to strengthen tobacco control

16 February 2024

During the 10th Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, delegates from more than 180 countries, 4 intergovernmental and 18 non-governmental organizations presented their countries’ progress and agreed to extend the Global Strategy to Accelerate Tobacco Control for five years. It includes priority areas for combating tobacco use and the impact of tobacco on human health and the environment both at the global level and taking into account the approaches for each country party to the convention.

This year’s 10th Conference of the Parties is dedicated to discussing further tobacco control in the context of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly restrictions on cross-border advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products, protection of the environment from tobacco use, and tobacco labeling. At one of the first sessions, a report on the global progress of countries in implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was presented and discussed. The Ukrainian intergovernmental delegation, led by representatives of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, presented the country’s progress in implementing the Global Goals and discussed priority solutions for the next five years.

“The global fight against the tobacco epidemic at the country level requires constant monitoring and rapid response to challenges related to tobacco sales and advertising, as well as the regulation of innovative tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes and heating tobacco products, and the impact of cigarette smoke on human health. According to the WHO, the third leading cause of death in the world is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heavy smokers are most vulnerable to COPD. Therefore, the issues of sales control, advertising restrictions, creation of smoking cessation services in the healthcare system, and legislative changes that will help reduce the number of potential smokers are a priority for our country and coincide with the Global Goals. In cooperation with the WHO Country Office in Ukraine and international partners, the Office will continue to strengthen the fight against tobacco use to protect the health of Ukrainians,” said Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Ihor Kuzin during the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The Ukrainian delegation also made a statement in which, among other things, it recalled the COP8 decision on tobacco control in complex emergencies, namely, when the implementation of the WHO FCTC in complex emergencies is complicated by emergency circumstances and leads to an increase in tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases despite the achievement of the Global Goals.

The 10th Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC presented and discussed reports from the Convention Secretariat and WHO on the impact and methods of controlling new tobacco products, informing people about the content and harms of tobacco products (in accordance with previous Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO FCTC) and strengthening restrictions on cross-border advertising and sponsorship of these products. The Conference of the Parties adopted several important decisions, in particular, the Panama Declaration, which summarizes progress in global tobacco control and sets priorities for national and regional programs, a decision to protect the environment from the effects of tobacco use, and a decision to restrict cross-border advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products.

According to the reports presented, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are thrown away annually in the world, which is 1.69 billion pounds of toxic waste containing plastic. Under certain conditions, such as exposure to sunlight and moisture, cigarette filters break down into smaller plastic pieces, leaching some of the 7,000 chemicals contained in a single cigarette. Many of these chemicals are environmentally harmful. Therefore, the Article 18 decision strengthens the fight against plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. Another important decision adopted at the conference is aimed at strengthening the guidelines for combating cross-border advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products and the portrayal of tobacco in entertainment and media.

The adopted Panama Declaration emphasizes the need for Parties to remain vigilant against tobacco industry interference in public health policy.

For reference: The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is an international agreement concluded in 2003 to help end the global tobacco epidemic. Ukraine ratified the WHO FCTC in 2006 and has since made significant progress in tobacco control, in particular, due to the implementation of effective legislation.