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WHO Announces the Holding of Public Hearings on the Global Tobacco Control Convention, and Invites Interested Parties including the Tobacco Industry to Testify

(Source: Press Release WHO/35, 18 May 2000)


All parties with an interest in the emerging Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) are invited to present their views at two days of public hearings organized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Organizations and institutions representing health and medical professionals, non- governmental organizations, tobacco farmers and workers, as well as the tobacco industry , will be among those who are expected to present their views at the hearings on 12 and 13 October 2000 in Geneva, Switzerland.

This is an historic opportunity for everyone, including those in the tobacco industry, to present their views on a major public health issue that is of great concern to us," said WHO Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Tobacco currently kills 4 million people annually. By 2030, that toll will rise to 10 million deaths per year with the developing world accounting for over 70% of those deaths. WHO has identified global tobacco control as a priority for the world's leading public health agency. The mu Iti-sectoral FCTC is the world's first public health convention and is expected to be opened for signature in 2003.

The hearings come just two days before the start of formal negotiations, the parameters of which were set forth in Resolution WHA.52.18 adopted by consensus by the World Health Assembly in 1999. This is the first time in its 51-year history that the WHO's Member States have embarked on the negotiation of a convention. The hearings are also a first in WHO's history and are widely seen as an opportunity for the tobacco industry to make its own views known before the international public health community. "Today we invite all interested parties to send in their views on global tobacco control This is an open invitation and we will listen carefully," said WHO Executive Director Dr Derek Yach, who heads WHO's tobacco control programme, the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI).

Notice of Hearings
The two-day hearings, which will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., will be held at Geneva's International Conference Centre (CICG).

Beginning today, WHO will receive comments from all interested institutions in any of the six official United Nations languages, i.e., Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The deadline for receiving submissions is close of business (Geneva time) on 31 August 2000. Submissions should be sent to fctchearings@who.int or posted to TFI, WHO, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland.

Submissions must not exceed 5 pages (standard size paper and type), including attachments,. These may be submitted by private sector and non-governmental organizations and institutions. Organizations and institutions will be limited to one comment each. Submissions in reply to presentations may be filed after the hearings, but should reach WHO before 27 October 2000, and must not exceed 5 pages. Each comment must clearly identify:

-- The organizational or institutional submitter
-- The scope of activities or mandate of the organization.
-- The organization's interest in the FCTC process
-- Source of funding of the commenting/submitting organization.

Hearings

A panel comprising three members of TFI's Policy and Strategy Advisory Committee (PSAC) will moderate the proceedings. PSAC was established by the Director-General to provide advice and comprises international tobacco control experts. Each speaker may speak for up to a maximum of five minutes.

WHO must receive all submissions by the deadline which will not be extended under any circumstances. Speakers may:

-- Provide a synopsis of their written testimony
 -- Add to their written testimony
 -- Comment on other people's testimony.

The press is invited to the public hearings.



For further informatlon from WHO, Journalists can contact Mr. Gregory Hartl WHO Spokesesperson, WHO, Geneva, tel (+4122) 7914458 (during the period 15-20 may: +41 22 917 6821), fax (+41 22) 7914858. E-mail: hartlg@who.int All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features can be obtained on Internet on the WHO home page http://www.who.int