WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control



The WHO FCTC was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005. It now counts 180 parties world-wide,  supporting the promotion of public health and new legal dimensions for international health cooperation.

Since its entry into force the WHO FCTC has become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history. The FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic and is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. The Convention represents a milestone for the promotion of public health and provides new legal dimensions for international health cooperation.

The Parties to the FCTC have made great progress in tobacco control since the entry into force of the convention. The status of implementation in each country can be followed through the global progress reports and the implementation database.

The governing body of the WHO FCTC is called the Conference of the Parties (COP) which is comprised of all Parties to the Convention.

Read more about the 7th Conference of the Parties (COP7) held in November 2016 in Delhi, India.

Main provisions of the FCTC

The main themes of the FCTC can be regrouped as follows:

  • Prevention Policy
    • Article 7: Non-price measures to reduce the demand for tobacco
    • Article 15 concerns the commitment of Parties to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products. See The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.
    • Article 16: Prohibition of sales of tobacco products to or by persons under the age set by domestic law
  • Bans on Tobacco Marketing
    • Article 11: prohibition of misleading tobacco packaging and labelling. See the Guidelines for Implementing Article 11.
    • Article 13: Parties should undertake a comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
  • Communication & Information
    • Article 12: Education, communication, training and public awareness. See the Guidelines for Implementing Article 12.
    • Article 20: Promotion of national and international research
    • Article 21: Obligation for periodic reporting on implementation of the FCTC
    • Article 22: International cooperation

Structure of the FCTC

The FCTC is divided into 11 sections:

  • Articles 1-2 establish the terminology used in the Convention
  • Articles 3-5 establish the objective, guiding principles and general obligations engendered by the treaty;
    • Article 3: Objective of the Convention
    • Article 4: Guiding principles
    • Article 5: General obligations
    • 5.3 is one of the most important cross-cutting provisions of the Convention, and one for which implementation guidelines have been adopted. It requires Parties to protect their tobacco control and public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. See the Guidelines for Implementing Article 5.3.
  • Articles 6 to 14: Demand-side reduction measures;
    • Article 6 encourages price and tax measures as effective means to reduce the demand for tobacco. See the Guidelines for Implementing Article 6.
    • Article 7: Non-price measures to reduce the demand for tobacco
    • Article 8: Smoke-free environments. See the Guidelines for Implementing Article 8.
    • Article 9: Regulation of contents and emissions of tobacco products and the methods by which they are tested and measured.
    • Article 10: Request for manufacturers and importers to disclose to government authorities and the public information on the constituents and emissions of tobacco products.
    • Article 11: prohibition of misleading tobacco packaging and labelling. See the Guidelines for Implementing Article 11.
    • Article 12: Education, communication, training and public awareness. See the Guidelines for Implementing Article 12.
    • Article 13: Parties should undertake a comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
    • Article 14: Provision of support for reducing tobacco dependence and cessation. See the Guidelines for Implementing Article 14.
  • Articles 15-17: supply-side reduction measures;
    • Article 15 concerns the commitment of Parties to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products. See The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.
    • Article 16: Prohibition of sales of tobacco products to or by persons under the age set by domestic law
    • Article 17: Support for economically viable alternative activities
  • Article 19: liability;
    • Article 19: Legislative action or promotion of existing laws to deal with liability and to provide assistance in legal proceedings relating to liability
  • Articles 20-22: cooperation and communication;
    • Article 20: Promotion of national and international research
    • Article 21: Obligation for periodic reporting on implementation of the FCTC
    • Article 22: International cooperation
  • Articles 23-26: institutional arrangements and financial resources;
    • Article 23-25: Procedures for the Conference of Parties
    • Article 26: Provision of financial support
  • Article 27: settlement of disputes;
  • Articles 28-29: development of the convention; and
  • Articles 30-38: “final provisions”, covering statutory matters such as means of acceding to the Convention, entry into force, and so on.

Useful links

WHO FCTC

Guidelines for Implementation

WHO FCTC – an overview


Submitted by: Andrea Glahn, 1 December 2016