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WASHINGTON -- The United States has signed the World Health Organization's global tobacco control treaty, called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson signed the document for the U.S. at the United Nations in New York late Monday.
The FCTC embraces core elements of comprehensive tobacco control. It requires ratifying nations to eliminate all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, with a narrow exception for nations such as the United States whose constitutions may not allow a complete ban.
It also requires warning labels to occupy at least 30 percent of the front and back of every pack of cigarettes; commits nations to protect nonsmokers from tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces; urges strict regulation of tobacco product contents; calls for higher tobacco taxes, global coordination to fight tobacco smuggling and promotion of tobacco prevention, cessation and research programs.
"The treaty is a critical first step in defusing the world's ticking tobacco time bomb," said John R. Seffrin, PhD, CEO of the American Cancer Society. "The Society looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to see that this treaty is quickly ratified and fully implemented."
The World Health Organization estimates that 500 million people, including 250 million children, ultimately will die premature deaths because of tobacco use. At current rates, tobacco will become the world's leading cause of premature death by 2030. In the U.S., about 440,000 people die each year from tobacco-related illnesses and nearly one-third of all cancers are attributable to tobacco use.