Ratification of Tobacco Treaty Progresses Slowly

Only 13 countries have ratified the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) tobacco treaty since it was adopted last year, the British Medical Journal reported May 22.

The World Health Assembly was hoping to have 40 countries ratify the treaty by June 29.

When the treaty was adopted, 192 members supported it. To date, 113 countries have signed the treaty, but just 13 have taken the final step and agreed to be bound by the treaty’s provisions. New Zealand and Norway are the only developed countries among the 13 to ratify the agreement.

At its June meeting, the European Union (EU) is expected to ratify the treaty, along with the EU’s seven accession states. That would bring the total of countries to 35. South Africa and Thailand are also expected to ratify the agreement.

The United States signed the treaty, but its ratification depends on whether two-thirds majority of the U.S. Senate approves it.

The provisions of the treaty, including bans on advertising and promotion, increases on cigarette taxes and measures to control secondhand smoke, take effect 90 days after 40 countries ratify it.