Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”
(New York) – The World Lung Foundation (WLF) applauds the significant step taken by the Russian government in ratifying the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). By joining the growing number of world nations (168) that support the FCTC, Russia has committed to taking strong measures to confront its growing tobacco epidemic. Approximately 400,000 Russians die of smoking-related illnesses every year.
The FCTC is the first global health treaty dealing with tobacco. In effect since February 2005, the Framework places countries under an international obligation to curb tobacco use through a series of proven effective strategies. Nations that join the FCTC are obligated to take strong tobacco control measures; among them are enacting comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising; mandating the placement of high-impact health warnings on tobacco packaging; protecting citizens from exposure to second-hand smoke in workplaces, public transport and indoor public places; and increasing tobacco taxes.
“By joining the FCTC, Russia is making a commitment to improve the health of smokers and non-smokers by confronting this public health crisis head-on,” said Peter Baldini, Executive Director of the World Lung Foundation. “Today, the Russian government establishes an important foundation upon which its future tobacco control success will be based.”
According to statistics kept by the State Duma Health Committee, Russia ranks first among European nations in per capita tobacco consumption. In a country where a pack of cigarettes is cheaper than a bar of chocolate and incomes are rising, 65 percent of men and more than 30 percent of women smoke – including more than three million teenagers.
The FCTC mandates member nations to enact the framework strategies, usually, within five years. Russia will have to make an initial progress report to the World Health Organization in 2010. “We hope the Russian government will implement these life-saving tobacco control strategies both quickly and comprehensively,” Mr. Baldini concluded.