Americans back anti-tobacco treaty

In an unexpected twist, the American government has agreed to back the World Health Organization's anti-tobacco treaty. The news will be confirmed later this week in Geneva when the WHO holds its annual assembly. The Americans had been opposed to the treaty because it did not allow individual governments to opt out of the agreement but it has now decided that it will join the majority and push for an international ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) calls for parties to the agreement to "adopt and implement effective legislative, executive, administrative or other measures to reduce, with the view to gradually eliminating, the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products" and requires them to phase out "tobacco sponsorship of sporting and cultural events". There is not, however, any concrete date by which this will be achieved although one may emerge in the next few months as the treaty moves ahead.

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