Today, 31 May 2011, is World No Tobacco Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) has selected “The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” as the theme for 2011.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the world’s foremost tobacco control instrument. The first treaty ever negotiated under the auspices of WHO, it represents a signal achievement in the advancement of public health. In force only since 2005, it is already one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in the history of the United Nations, with more than 170 parties. “An evidence-based treaty, it reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and provides new legal dimensions for cooperation in tobacco control,” WHO says.

  • The tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, including 600,000 non-smokers.
  • After high blood pressure, tobacco use is the biggest contributor to the epidemic of non-communicable diseases—such as heart attack, stroke, cancer, and emphysema—which accounts for 63 percent of all deaths worldwide.
  • No consumer product kills as many people and as needlessly as does tobacco. It killed 100 million people in the 20th century. Unless we act, it could kill up to one billion people in the 21st. All of these deaths will have been entirely preventable.

The most powerful tool at our disposal to curtail the tobacco epidemic is the WHO FCTC, which effectively protects people from the many harms of tobacco. The WHO FCTC obliges its parties to take incremental action against tobacco consumption, marketing and exposure, among many other measures.

The key is full implementation of the WHO FCTC.

Click here to learn more about World No Tobacco Day 2011.