Tobacco at international level

Smoking kills 8 million people a year globally and is the leading cause of preventable death. WHO and the EU stipulate certain standards to curb the consumption of tobacco products. 

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control FCTC is the first treaty aimed at protecting public health. The convention was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2003 and has been in force since February 2005. It has been signed by 168 countries and ratified by 182, including the EU. (As at December 2021)  

The convention sets out the fundamental principles that apply globally to the management of tobacco and tobacco products. The convention calls for the regulation of supply and demand of tobacco using evidence-based measures in order to improve the state of health of the world’s population. It requires signatory countries to incorporate the following aspects in their national legislation:  

  • ban on selling tobacco products to minors;

  • effective protection against passive smoking in workplaces, confined spaces, on public transport, in public buildings and public spaces;  

  • introducing product disclosures and warnings on all tobacco products;

  • restricting advertising and sponsorship associated with tobacco products;

  • combating illicit trade, illegal production and counterfeited tobacco products.  

Switzerland signed the WHO Convention on 25 June 2004. In doing so, the Federal Council signalled its willingness to implement it in Switzerland. Ratification of the convention is one of the Federal Council’s objectives.   

EU tobacco products directive

On 19 May 2014, the EU member states agreed on a directive to standardise regulations on tobacco products. Although this directive does not have any immediate implications for the corresponding Swiss regulations, it is still taken into account in national legislative work. This directive is also relevant to Swiss companies that export to the European Union.

The new EU directive:

  • requires general and combined health warnings to be affixed to cigarette and roll-your-own tobacco packaging, covering 65% of the front and back surface of the pack (Articles 8 to 12);

  • prohibits any promotional or misleading elements on tobacco products (Article 13);

  • prohibits cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco products containing characterising flavours, such as menthol (Article 7);

  • stipulates requirements regarding appearance and content of unit packets (Article 14);

  • introduces traceability and monitoring systems across the EU (Articles 15 and 16);

  • defines safety and quality requirements for electronic cigarettes containing nicotine. (Article 20)

Last modification 07.12.2021

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