In a meeting of the UN’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ending on Friday, health officials from 113 countries agreed to participate in a new study targetting the effectiveness of tobacco advertising on the Internet and satellite TV. The assembly, which was overseen by the World Health Organization (WHO), looked into the plausibility of legally binding protocols aimed at clamping down on cross-border ads and illicit trade. Participants feared that these types of tactics snuck through their previous attempts to ban all advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products.
The WHO reports that tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, with an estimated 4.9 million deaths a year. They expect this toll to double by the year 2020 if current smoking patterns continue. The WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was adopted in June of 2003, and quickly became one of the most widely embraced treaties in United Nations history.
With Internet technology rapidly spreading into developing countries, there is an urgent need to stem the brimming influence tobacco companies already have in these regions. According to WHO, 70% of all tobacco-related deaths occur in developing countries. Activist groups are making their voices heard on this issue, claiming that several major tobacco companies have made concerted efforts to slow the treaty’s implementation in these markets.