Tobacco use has been recognized by the World Health Organization as the number one preventable cause of premature death and disability. In the 21st Century, one billion people will die because of tobacco use, with 70% of the toll occurring in low- and middle-income countries. To magnify the horror of these projections, this epidemic, unlike other threats to global health, is a direct result of the activities of a profitable industry. In recognition of this current and future pandemic, countries of the world negotiated and unanimously adopted in 2003 the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first-ever treaty on health. The negotiations for the FCTC were shaped and influenced by the cooperative efforts of Civil Society and alliances among key countries (notably from developing countries) and in defiance of the tobacco industry. The resulting treaty, which has already been ratified by 168 countries, is an example of the promise of international health governance and highlights the central role of scientific evidence in the establishment of governance and in its maintenance. This lecture will describe this process and will also present findings from the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project, the first international research project to evaluate the effectiveness of FCTC policies, including examples of how ITC findings have contributed to the formation and implementation of strong, evidence-based tobacco control policies throughout the world. The lecture will also provide a summary of ITC findings about the impact of tobacco control policies such warning labels and smoke-free laws, including similarities and differences of policy impact between high-income and low- and middle-income countries.
About the speaker:
Dr. Geoffrey T. Fong is Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, and Senior Investigator, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Dr. Fong is Founder and Chief Principal Investigator of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (the ITC Project), a collaboration of over 80 researchers across 20 countries, inhabited by over 70% of the world’s tobacco users. The ITC Project is conducting population-level research in each country to evaluate the effectiveness of tobacco control policies of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first-ever health treaty. He received his AB from Stanford and his PhD in psychology from Michigan and has held faculty positions at Northwestern and Princeton. He is an editor of the forthcoming U.S. National Cancer Institute and WHO Monograph on the economics of tobacco control and has been a consultant for WHO, Health Canada, and a number of countries. Dr. Fong received the University of Waterloo’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1999, and in 2007, he was the first researcher selected as a Senior Investigator of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. In 2009, Dr. Fong and two Waterloo colleagues received a “Top Canadian Achievement in Health Research Award” from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Medical Association Journal on behalf of the ITC Project.