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JUNE 23, 2004

Anti-tobacco forces grow

The last few days have seen a rush of 14 countries signing up with the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, bringing the total of signatories to 138 out of around 200 countries in the world. Further signatories are expected this week before the treaty closes for signature on June 29. After that date countries can still become parties to the agreement but it becomes more complicated. It is also worth noting that 21 countries have now ratified the agreement which means that the WHO is halfway to getting the treaty enforced. The convention will become international law on the 90th day after the 40th county ratifies the treaty although each country committed to the convention will then have to introduce its own tobacco legislation.

The only major countries (in terms of population) not to have signed the deal are Nigeria, Indonesia and Russia and they may sign the agreement in the course of the next few days.