Pan American Countries Commit to Accelerating Progress Against Tobacco – Renewed Effort Will Save Lives, Improve Public Health in Americas

Statement of Patricia Sosa, Director of Latin America and Caribbean Programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 28, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today 35 countries in the Americas announced a new commitment to accelerating progress in implementing proven tobacco control measures that will save lives and improve public health throughout the region. The resolution was adopted at the 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference in Washington, D.C and outlines a vision for the Americas from 2018-2022.

The resolution urges all countries in the Americas to adopt national smoke-free laws and warning labels on tobacco products no later than 2022. Additionally, the resolution calls for a particular focus on strengthening laws that ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. These measures are in line with the world’s international public health treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which obligates 181 parties to adopt proven strategies to curb the crushing global burden of tobacco-related death and disease.

In addition to these life-saving measures, the resolution calls for countries to oppose attempts by the tobacco industry and its front groups to delay, hinder or impede the implementation of tobacco control measures designed to protect public health. In the Americas and around the world, the tobacco industry and its allies remain the single greatest obstacle to progress in combatting tobacco use. From suing countries to lobbying against life-saving laws, the industry leaves no stone unturned in fighting against measures tobacco companies know will reduce smoking.

Despite intense opposition from a powerful tobacco industry, the Americas have long been a leader in public health. Across Latin America, 18 countries have adopted smoke-free laws and 21 countries or jurisdictions require warning labels to cover at least 30 percent of tobacco packaging. Additionally, countries like Uruguay have set an example for low- and middle-income countries around the world by standing up to legal attacks against proven tobacco control laws.

Today’s resolution demonstrates an unwavering resolve to address the enormous toll of tobacco use – and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids stands ready to assist countries in making progress in this ambitious plan. The resolution set forth by the Americas should serve as a model to other nations and regions around the world of what countries can achieve together in the fight against tobacco use. Without urgent action by more governments, tobacco use will kill one billion people around the world this century.