Geneva to host new anti-smoking organisation

Nearly a third of the population over age 15 smokes in Switzerland Keystone

A new tobacco control body will have its headquarters in Geneva and a budget of about $8 million (SFr10.5 million) for the next two years, it has been announced.

This content was published on February 18, 2006 - 12:31

The decision was taken at the first meeting of the parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday.

The anti-smoking treaty was finalized in May 2003 and came into force last year.

"The urgency of the problem of tobacco use is shared by all of us, and the commitment from countries and civil society to take action is very strong," said Juan Martabit, Chile's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and the president of the two-week conference in the city.

"I am confident we are on track to save millions of lives in the near future thanks to this treaty," he added.

The treaty's new permanent secretariat will work from within the confines of the WHO. It will collaborate closely with the organisation's anti-tobacco initiative, explained Denis Aitken of the WHO.


Signatory countries to the convention also agreed to set up panels to draw up legally binding guidelines on cross-border advertising and illicit tobacco trade.

"Cross-border advertising is a real problem when it originated in a country that has not signed the convention," added Aitken, who said internet and satellite broadcasts limited the effectiveness of advertising bans.

Delegates also said they would develop guidelines, which would not be legally binding, to help countries establish smoke-free places and effective ways of regulating tobacco products.

A group of experts will also study economically viable alternatives to tobacco growing and products for those countries whose economies depend heavily on tobacco production.

Switzerland signed the convention in 2004, but has yet to ratify it. The delay is mainly due to the legal changes it implies and the fact that it requires a parliamentary vote.

The treaty, which became effective a year ago, has already been ratified by 113 countries. It could save up to 200 million lives, says the WHO.

Signatory states have three years after the convention became effective to put warning notices on cigarette packets, and five years to ban advertising, marketing and sponsorship by tobacco companies.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

In Switzerland, around 14.2 billion cigarettes were sold in 2003, or 360 packets per smoker.

There are approximately two million smokers in Switzerland, or 31% of the population over the age of 15.

Smoking is considered responsible for the premature deaths of 8,000 people every year in Switzerland.

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Key facts

Tobacco causes one in ten adult deaths worldwide.
This is nearly 5 million deaths a year, or one death every 6.5 seconds.
The current death toll will nearly double by 2020 if current trends continue.
Tobacco kills 50% of its regular users.
900 million smokers, or 84% or the world total, live in developing and transitional economy countries.

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