The worldwide rise and spread of tobacco use is an issue which has recently
begun to be addressed on an international level. On May 24, 1999 the World
Health Assembly (WHA), the governing body of the World Health Organization
(WHO) passed a resolution to begin work on the
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). A convention is an international legal agreement
between states governed by international law. The Convention represents
the first time the WHO has resolved to develop a legally binding instrument
in accordance with Article 19 of its constitution.
The WHO accepts that tobacco is an important contributor to inequity
in health in all societies and must be considered a harmful commodity
because of its addictive nature and the health problems associated with
its use. The goal of the convention is to establish protocols concerning
issues of international concern, for example: prices, tax-free products,
advertising, internet trade, smuggling, and information sharing.
Highlights of the first Tobacco Treaty Conference of the Parties
The first Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has concluded today in Geneva, having adopted the following decisions:
To establish the permanent secretariat of the Treaty within the World Health Organization, located in Geneva. Delegates agreed on a budget of US$ 8 million for its functioning during the next two years. Parties agreed to fund it through voluntary assessed contributions.
To create working groups that will begin development of protocols (legally binding instruments) in the areas of cross-border advertising and illicit trade. To help countries establish smoke-free places and effective ways of regulating tobacco products, Parties agreed to develop guidelines (non-binding instruments).
To allow the Conference of the Parties to assess progress made by countries in implementing the measures required by the Treaty through a pilot reporting questionnaire agreed by the Parties during the Conference.
To establish an ad-hoc group of experts that will study economically viable alternatives to tobacco growing and production, with a view to making recommendations on diversification initiatives for those countries whose economies depend heavily on tobacco production.
The President of the Conference, Ambassador Juan Martabit from Chile said, "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. I felt the positive spirit throughout the Conference, which clearly contributed to its success, helping countries to reach consensus quickly on the basic issues, so we can concentrate our efforts in the implementation. I am confident we are on track to save millions of lives in the near future thanks to this Treaty."
Environmental Tobacco Smoke
Since 1991 the National Cancer Institute has released several monographs covering many areas of interest in tobacco use research and policy. It includes a 1999 monograph addressing the "Health Effects of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke". This publication is a review of current research which links ETS, or secondhand smoke, to lung cancer in adults, respiratory problems in children, heart disease, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome. The monograph goes on to say: "...[The] major public health burden caused by ETS more than justifies creating smoke-free workplaces and public areas."
In 2006 the US Surgeon General issued a report on the “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke” concluding, among other findings, that “Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke” and that “The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Master Settlement Agreement
Here is the text
of the the Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco companies
and the 46 states (PDF)
Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights
Americans for Nonsmokers'
Rights is the leading national lobbying organization dedicated to
nonsmokers' rights, taking on the tobacco industry at all levels of government
to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke and youth from tobacco addiction.
ANR pursues an action-oriented program of policy and legislation.
Local tobacco control policy has demonstrated to be a very important strategy in preventing exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, helping people quit and preventing young people from starting to smoke. For a complete listing of local level policies and achievements, please refer to the following resources:
On November 23, 1998, 46 states settled their lawsuits against the major tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health care costs, joining four states (Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Minnesota) that had reached earlier, individual settlements. These settlements required the tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity, with total payments over the first 25 years estimated at $246 billion. The multi-state settlement, known as the Master Settlement Agreement, also imposed limited restrictions on the marketing of tobacco products. For more information check out the TobaccoFreeKids Reports.
The American Lung Association
The American Lung Association® is the oldest voluntary health organization in the United States, with a National Office and constituent and affiliate associations around the country. Founded in 1904 to fight tuberculosis, the American Lung Association® today fights lung disease in all its forms, with special emphasis on asthma, tobacco control and environmental health. Their website is great source of current information about state-level tobacco control initiatives.
American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACS has state divisions and more than 3,400 local offices. The goal of the American Cancer Society (ACS) is to prevent cancer, save lives, and diminish suffering from cancer. Enter the areas below to learn more about ACS efforts to meet this goal.
State Tobacco Laws
- 41 states restrict smoking in governmental work sites, while in 20
states restrict tobacco use in private buildings. In 31 states restrictions
are also placed on restaurants to contain or eliminate tobacco products.
To protect children 28 states and D.C prohibit smoking in child care
areas and five states have taken steps to strengthen their smoke-free
indoor air law.
- All states prohibit sale and distribution of tobacco products to
minors, but only 9 states restrict advertising of tobacco products.
In 23 states and D.C., a retail
tobacco license can be suspended or revoked for selling tobacco products
to a minor.
- In only 33 states is
a retail licensure required for the sale of tobacco products.
- All states tax cigarettes (average =
3 8 . 9 cents per pack) 13 states have increased the fix
tax even higher to 12 cents in New Hampshire to 71 cents in Alaska.
, and in 42 states smokeless
tobacco is taxed as well
- Tables summarizing state laws are available through Centers for Disease
Control's State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation system which
can be used at state and local levels to plan and implement initiatives
on youth access to tobacco products, advertising, and taxation of tobacco
products. (Shelton et al, 1995, MMWR, 44,1-28) (Updated
information from 1998, MMWR, 48)
- Vending Machine restrictions:
There are 18 states with no restrictions. In 17 states, vending machines
are not allowed in areas accessible to minors unless machines are supervised
and/or have locking devices. 12 states banned vending machines from
areas accessible to minors. Florida requires supervision of vending
machines at all times.
Tobacco Settlement Money (summary of state actions as of Winter 1999)
- Eight States: Hawaii, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington
have made substantial new commitments to funding tobacco prevention
and cessation programs
- Six states: Alaska, Montana,
Nevada, New York, Virginia, and New Hampshire have committed some money
to prevention and cessation programs. They have agreed to less
than one third of the minimum amount recommended by the CDC for these
- Six states: Idaho, Maine,
California, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Michigan have made no commitments
of funds for prevention and cessation.
- Five states: Delaware, Wyoming,
Nebraska, North Carolina, and Kansas have placed their settlement money
into a trust fund that may be used for a variety of purposes.
- Nineteen states: Arizona,
Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky,
Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and the District of Columbia have made
no legislative decision regarding the settlement money.
- Six states already have comprehensive
tobacco prevention and cessation programs: California, Massachusetts,
Arizona, Oregon, Florida, and Mississippi; only Massachusetts has increased
funding for their program.
- Note: It is too early to definitively determine the usefulness of
tobacco prevention and cessation programs on the tobacco-use rates of
children and teen-agers.
- Four States: Maine,
Delaware, Mississippi and Arkansas- currently fund tobacco programs
at the minimum levels suggested by the CDC
- Eight States: Fund tobacco
programs at half of the minimum suggested by the CDC
- Thirty-three States: Are spending
less than half the suggested amount and five states: Michigan, Missouri,
New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia
provide less than a substantial amount of money toward tobacco prevention
- Annual funding for tobacco
prevention has dropped by over 28 percent or $209 million in the last
- Tobacco industries have increased
their expenditures by 66 percent in the last three years reaching a
record of 11.45 billion a year. According to the FTC the tobacco companies
are spending twenty dollars marketing for every one dollar spent than
all 50 states spend on prevention.
- The states are spending only
one-third of what the CDC recommends for tobacco prevention accounting
for only 2.8 percent of their total tobacco revenue.
- Twenty States: have sold or securitized their right to a future in
tobacco settlements for a smaller upfront payment, reducing the amount
of settlement money available in the future.
Source: TobaccoFreeKids Reports