WHO statement urging governments to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship at international expositions

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15 August 2019

Source: World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement calling upon governments to enforce their obligation under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 13 to enforce comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorship at international expos and conferences, in order to ensure that such events and programs are tobacco free and that their activities and participants are not sponsored by tobacco companies.

The renewed call by the WHO comes in light of reports of tobacco companies aiming to establish new partnerships with governments to sponsor events or pavilions in world expos, in a country that has already ratified the WHO FCTC. Philip Morris International (PMI) recently announced a partnership with the Government of Switzerland to sponsor the Swiss pavilion in the Dubai World Expo 2020. The Government has reconsidered the partnership, and chosen not to accept the financial support of PMI. The WHO praised this decision and encouraged Switzerland to ratify the WHO FCTC, being one of the few countries that have yet to do so.

The WHO further noted that commitments under Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC to protect public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry, as reflected in a 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between WHO and the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which “bans” sponsorship of expos by tobacco companies or their agents or affiliates.

The WHO further urged organizers of international expos and conferences adopt smoke-free policies in accordance with Article 8 of the WHO FCTC, to discourage smoking and to protect people from exposure to second-hand smoke

The WHO further reminded governments that they should:

  • Ban sales of tobacco or tobacco-related products at expos;
  • Ban sponsorship of expos by tobacco companies or their agents or affiliates; and
  • Ban advertising and promotion of tobacco products, tobacco company brands, and the use of tobacco at expos.