The Global Tobacco Treaty

Gigi Kellett and TJ Faircloth at the UN

In 2003, the global tobacco treaty made history. Officially known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, it is the first legally binding treaty for the World Health Organization (WHO) and the first-ever public health and corporate accountability treaty.

Full Implementation Will Save More Than 200 Million Lives 

After the treaty took effect as international law it became one of the most rapidly embraced U.N. treaties of all time. With more than 180 parties ratifying it, the treaty protects nearly 90 percent of the world’s people. And the provisions for monitoring and enforcement give the treaty real power.

The treaty saves lives because it:

  • Affirms the priority of the health over trade and commercial interests.
  • Protects public health policy from interference by tobacco corporations.
  • Bans tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Establishes important precedents for international regulation of other industries that endanger human rights, public health and the environment.


Global Coalition Is Key 

Key elements ensured the successful passage of the global tobacco treaty, including:

A global alliance of more than 100 consumer, environmental, public health, human rights, faith-based and corporate accountability organizations, brought together and supported by Corporate Accountability International. Known as the Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT), this broad coalition was pivotal to treaty negotiations, acting as a united front in securing the strongest possible treaty. It was also instrumental in closing dangerous loopholes the tobacco industry had fought to include.

Corporate Accountability International’s close work with the World Health Organization. We were granted Official Relations Status with the WHO in 2002 and later became an accredited observer to the treaty’s governing body: the Conference of the Parties. This official status allowed us to take an active part in treaty negotiations and challenge the tobacco industry’s interference during the process. The result? A treaty that is powerful enough to make a real difference.

The Framework Convention Alliance (FCA). Through the FCA, we work with more than 350 organizations from more than 100 countries on the development, ratification and implementation of the global tobacco treaty.

"Big Tobacco and its allies in wealthy countries fought this global tobacco treaty every step of the way. Through hard work and strategic organizing we overcame tremendous odds in making the treaty a reality. Looking ahead, we will continue to work together to challenge the tobacco industry's dirty tricks." 

Akinbode Oluwafemi, 

Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria, a NATT member

Get Big Tobacco Out of Public Policy-Making

One of the most critical contributions Corporate Accountability International and its allies made during the treaty negotiation was the advancement of Article 5.3. The article enshrines in international law the principle that the tobacco industry has no role in public policy.

Big Tobacco’s interference in health policy is one of the greatest threats to the treaty’s implementation and enforcement. Philip Morris International (PMI) , British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco (JT) use their political and economic influence to weaken, delay and defeat tobacco control legislation around the world. More about tobacco industry interference.

Article 5.3 makes it clear that industry has no right to subvert the role of the government when it comes to creating public health policies, and obliges ratifying countries to protect their policies from industry interference.

It’s working. Just a few examples include:

  • Colombia: Backed by Article 5.3, Colombia’s Congress removed industry representatives from the negotiating table during the development of the national tobacco control bill. The result is a strong national bill.
  • Philippines: Filipino advocates rallied support for a measure that helps pave the way for incorporating Article 5.3 Guidelines into national policy. It instructs government officials to not partner with, endorse, or promote the tobacco industry and its interests.
  • Check out this roadmap to 5.3 and protecting health from Big Tobacco.

The Work is Not Done

While the passage of the global tobacco treaty was a great success, much more needs to be done to ensure its full lifesaving impact. Our campaign works with our global allies to:

  • Support the implementation of treaty measures around the world.
  • Clear Big Tobacco out of the way of policy-making.
  • Grow the visibility of the global tobacco treaty as a tool that saves lives and sets an important corporate accountability precedent. 


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