Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control(FCTC) was the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO and came into force in February 2005. There are currently 181 states party to the FCTC, all of which are legally bound to comply with obligations set under the treaty. Australia became a signatory to the FCTC in December 2003 and became a full party when the treaty came into force in 2005.
The FCTC outlines a set of seven guiding principles for involved parties, including that:
- every person be informed of the health consequences of smoking and effective measures be implemented to protect all people from exposure;
- strong political commitment is necessary to develop and support tobacco control measures;
- international cooperation is an important part of the Convention;
- comprehensive and multisectoral responses are essential;
- issues relating to liability are an important part of tobacco control;
- technical and financial assistance for people in the tobacco industry should be addressed; and
- the participation of civil society is essential in achieving the objectives of the Convention.
Article 5.3 specifies that Parties shall act to protect public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law. The FCTC notes that “there is also a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s and public health policy interests”. The core provisions of the FCTC address the reduction of both supply and demand of tobacco products. Key demand reduction provisions include price and tax measures to reduce demand, regulation of product and packaging, and education, among others. Key supply reduction provisions address sales to minors and the illicit tobacco trade.
Tobacco control policy in Australia
In 2012, Federal, and State and Territory Governments in Australia committed to reducing the national smoking rate to 10% of the population and halving the Indigenous smoking rate (from 2009 baseline of 47.7%) by 2018. .However, neither of these targets was achieved. In 2019, the Federal Government set a new target of reducing smoking rates below 10% by 2025.
National Tobacco Strategy
The National Tobacco Strategy is a policy framework for the Australian Government, and State and Territory Governments to work with non-government agencies to reduce the burden of tobacco-related harm in Australia.
The next National Tobacco Strategy is under development and will be a sub-strategy under the National Drug Strategy. Cancer Council and the National Heart Foundation of Australia recommendations for the National Tobacco Strategy are outlined in the Policy Priorities section of this chapter.
Policy targeting groups with high smoking prevalence
The National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018 identified high smoking rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and other population groups with a high prevalence of tobacco use (e.g. single parents, the homeless, prisoners, drug users and those with mental illness or living in remote areas) as key areas for intervention.
In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) committed to targets for closing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians in the areas of health, education, and employment. To reduce the smoking rate and tobacco-related burden of disease within these communities, the Australian Government committed $100.6 million over four years from 2010-11 to 2013-14 for the Tackling Indigenous Smoking and Health Lifestyle program as part of the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package. A review of the program in late 2014 led to a redesigned Tackling Indigenous Smoking program, funded for $116.8 million over three years from 2015-16 to 2017-18. In 2018, the Australian Government announced that the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program would continue, with a commitment of $183.7 million over 2018-19 to 2021-22.
- World Health Organization. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2003.
- WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Switzerland: WHO FCTC; [cited 2021 Apr 22] Available from: https://www.who.int/fctc/guidelines/article_5_3.pdf.
- Council of Australian Governments. National Healthcare Agreement 2012. Sydney: COAG; 2012.
- Council of Australian Governments. National partnership agreement on preventive health. Sydney: COAG; 2008 Available from: http://www.federalfinancialrelations.gov.au/content/npa/health/_archive/health_preventive_national_partnership.pdf.
- Department of Health. National Press Club address — Long Term National Health Plan. [homepage on the internet] Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2019 [cited 2021 Apr 22]. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/national-press-club-address-long-term-national-health-plan.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: Smoking Trends, Australia. [homepage on the internet] Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2017 [cited 2021 Apr 22]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples-smoking-trends-australia/latest-release.
- Mitchell E, Bandara P, Smith V. Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program: Final evaluation report. Redfern: Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia; 2018 [cited 2021 Apr 22] Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/tackling-indigenous-smoking-program-final-evaluation-report.pdf.