Tobacco Smuggling Lawsuits Continue as WHO Convention is Approved

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Michelle Grant
Governments around the responded to rising concerns regarding smoking and health by increasing cigarette tax rates. Cigarettes are one of the most heavily taxed goods and as a result cigarettes are one of most frequently smuggled goods in the world. On March 1, 2003, in Geneva, Switzerland, the nations of the world (191 countries) concluded negotiations on the first global health treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in hopes of combating the smuggling of cigarettes. On March 21, 2003, the WHO adopted the convention by voice vote. The Framework Convention Alliance is a diverse coalition of over 180 non-governmental organizations from around the world working together and independently to support the development of a successful Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The Alliance includes existing coalitions/alliances working at national, regional and international levels as well as individual NGOs and organizations working at the local or national level. The FCTC is a significant first step in the worldwide fight against death and disease caused by the tobacco epidemic because it presents the basic tools for countries to enact complete tobacco control legislation and oppose the tobacco industry. Developing countries fought back in Geneva after being under attack by massive tobacco industry, marketing and political pressure campaigns. Regardless of efforts by Germany and a few developed countries that are home to large tobacco multinationals such as Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International to weaken vital clauses, the developing world triumphed, securing strong language on banning advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, large warnings on packages, and an agreement by countries to block illicit trade.