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WHO Urges Indonesia to Ratify FCTC

In an inter-ministerial meeting on WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. (FCTC) held in Indonesia, 1 April 2014, WHO Director General, Dr Margaret Chanasked Indonesian high officials to support the accession of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

FCTC has been ratified by 178 parties, representing 90% of global population, as the convention implement specific measures to reduce tobacco use and protect populations from associated deaths and early deaths. Tobacco industry must not be allowed to handcuff any government from implementing the measures.

The meeting was held by Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry of People’s Welfare, to discuss about the accession of WHO FCTC.  Chaired by the Minister of Health, Dr Nafsiah Mboi, Sp.A, MPH,the meeting was attended by representatives of ministries. Among the officials are those from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Labour and Transmigration, Ministry of Child and Women’s Protection, Ministry of Social Welfare, and Ministry of Youth and Sports. 

In her video remarks, Dr Chan also acknowledged the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons in 2012 which put noncommunicable diseases as one of the new development challenges.  Countries implementing FCTC see almost immediate double-digit drops in the number of heart attacks, strokes, respiratory disorders and tobacco-related cancers.

“None of the adverse economic effects like lost revenues or jobs predicted in their (tobacco industry) arguments has actually been documented in any of the large number of countries that parties to the FCTC,” said Dr Chan.

The meeting also gave an opportunity to WHO Regional Director for South East Asia Region, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, to share her messages. “The WHO FCTC was developed to protect health, not restrict trade. Countries implementing it need not see a change in their trade portfolio.” FCTC is broadly compatible with other international obligations, including those related to trade. Countries with long history of tobacco culture like Turkey, Brazil and India have ratified FCTC and seen decrease prevalence in related diseases.

To provide some references, also attending the meeting are Dr Douglas Bettcher, WHO Director of Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases from Geneva and Professor Prakit Vathesatogkit, tobacco prevention and control expert from Thailand.

In his presentation, Dr Douglas Bettcher showed how ratifying FCTC benefits country’s public health while creating less dramatic impact on tobacco industry. Eight of the ten largest producers of tobacco are Parties to the WHO FCTC.  The tobacco companies have a history of hyper-inflating the numbers of their employees and presenting overwhelming numbers suggesting a catastrophic scenario of job losses if tobacco control measures are taken. On the contrary, no immediate impact on tobacco agriculture or jobs loses has been observed in any of these countries.

Thailand’s experiences after ratifying FCTC.as presented by Prof Vathesatogkit, showed that ratifying FCTC does not change the number of smokers in 20 years, or the number of tobacco farmers. Instead, it decreases health issues affecting women and children due to exposures to tobacco smoke. Thailand has managed to increase tobacco tax to 77% of the selling price of the cigarette and use the revenue to support health promotion including tobacco control. 

 

For more information please contact:

 

Ms Nursila Dewi, Communication Officer,

WHO Country Office for Indonesia, Jakarta.

Tel: 021-520 4349, facs: 021-520 1164,

e-mail: dewin@searo.who.int

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