FCTC – Second Decade

Thomas Bollyky has an interesting article on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control  that has been in existence for a decade. The pact has been a measured success, though not an unqualified one. On international public health, area that is not impervious to politics, it represents a tremendous accomplishment given the range of private interests that were arrayed against it. If not entire justified or accurate, the convention has erected a normative stand against tobacco that has deepened through the decade. Despite what its been able to achieve, the treaty as Bollyky argues only works as much as the domestic support given to it. And in many emerging and developing countries, despite the resolve, the institutions and administrative presence just does not exist to implement effective tobacco control. India and China are two cases in point. In the latter, the powerful interests of tobacco SOEs has all but marginalised the public health aspects and implications of the problem leading to a problem that is far worse now than ever. In India, implementation is abysmal. Given the size of the country, this was an expected problem. But the political resolve, abundance at the time of ratification and leading up to it, has dried up. This is probably true of health policy as a whole. And this is compounded by domestic tobacco manufactures that continue to have unparalleled clout as evidenced by the dismissal of an anti-tobacco health minister that was intent on changing packaging restrictions, a few months ago. The entry of private money, however, into the anti-tobacco space from entities like the Gates Foundation and Bloomberg has been a much needed fillip for NGOs and other anti-tobacco elements in developing countries that have seen a shifting political environment reduce the amount of attention their issue gets.  The march of the tobacco industry continues unabated in the global south.