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MARCH 26, 2004

Anti-smoking treaty tops 100 signatures

Earlier this week Ecuador become the 100th country to sign the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The following day Congo lifted the number to 101.

"With their signatures, 100 governments which represent 4.5 billion people have underscored their intention to become a party to the convention and thus protect their populations from tobacco-related diseases," said WHO Director-General Dr Lee Jong-wook. "I commend these countries, urge the remaining ones to sign and encourage all signatories who have not yet ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to do so."

The treaty comes into forces when 40 countries have ratified the deal. At the moment only nine have done so but as India is one of them, they represent one billion people.

The important name missing from for the treaty is that of the United States of America. President George W Bush has yet to sign the agreement before it is sent on to the Senate for ratification. The US government says that it is continuing a legal review of the treaty.