GENEVA, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that member states are deliberating a roadmap for the global tobacco control agenda and strengthening implementation of the tobacco control treaty over the next five years.
The Conference of Parties to the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) opens its eighth session (COP 8) in Geneva on Monday, to review the progress in reducing tobacco use and strategies for addressing the emergence of new tobacco products and tobacco industry interference in tobacco control efforts.
"Since it came into force 13 years ago, the FCTC remains one of the word's most powerful tools for promoting public health," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, hailing the tobacco control treaty as one of the greatest public health achievements of the last twenty years.
"Through the implementation of this treaty, we are making great progress, and we are saving lives," Ghebreyesus said.
As a result of this treaty, countries have passed comprehensive tobacco control laws, including increased taxes on tobacco, establishment of smoke-free spaces, and requirements for large graphic health warnings and plain packaging of tobacco products.
The six-day COP8 will focus, among other things, on a draft of a Medium-term Strategic Framework to outline priorities for scaling up the global tobacco control agenda and strengthening implementation of the treaty over the next five years.
That will include a push to extend tobacco control efforts to include a new focus on the negative impacts of tobacco production on the environment and on development.
Michael Moller, director-general of the UN Office at Geneva, underlines the critical need to link tobacco control with sustainable development strategies, as 80 percent of the world's 1.1 billion smokers are living in low- and middle-income countries.
"Smoking is a development problem because it hits the most vulnerable and strains already overstretched health systems, feeding a vicious circle of poverty and inequality," he said. "Reaching the 2030 Agenda and lessening the burden of non-communicable diseases requires early, widespread action at every level."
According to WHO FCTC, tobacco use kills more than seven million people around the world each year, and causes serious disability and significantly increases the risk of a number of additional diseases not immediately linked to it such as tuberculosis.
Global estimates show that every year tobacco use costs the global economy 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars, nearly two percent of global gross domestic product, while tobacco growing also causes up to five percent of deforestation worldwide and results in biodiversity loss and soil degradation, as well as water and soil pollution from pesticide use.
The FCTC is first legally binding international treaty to promote public health, which was negotiated under the auspices of the WHO in 2003 and has since been a key legal instrument for promoting international health cooperation.
Since it came into force in 2005, the convention has been a powerful tool in global tobacco-control efforts, resulting in national strategies and legislation that have reduced sales of tobacco products to minors and comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.