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What is the WHO FCTC?

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international public health treaty negotiated under WHO auspices. The WHO FCTC, which was negotiated over four years and came into force on 27 February 2005, was developed in the recognition that a global strategy was needed to confront a global epidemic that countries cannot address through domestic legislation alone. The WHO FCTC contains guidelines and requirements for the implementation of the most cost-effective tobacco control measures available.

Key provisions that parties to the WHO FCTC will be required to implement include:

  • A comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion to be implemented within five years;
  • Strong health warnings on tobacco packaging that cover at least 30% (and ideally 50%) of the principal display areas within three years;
  • Protection from secondhand smoke in all indoor workplaces and public places and in public transportation; and
  • Measures to reduce the smuggling of tobacco products.

The treaty also addresses a number of other issues, including the disclosure and regulation of ingredients in tobacco products, sale of tobacco products by or to minors, treatment for tobacco addiction, research and exchange of information among countries and promoting public awareness. 

- Download the full text of the treaty.
- Official Site:

Becoming a Party to the WHO FCTC: Ratification, Acceptance, Approval, Formal Confirmation and Accession

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) was adopted by the World Health Assembly on May 21, 2003 and was open for signature from June 16, 2003 until June 29, 2004 during which 168 countries signed the treaty. Signature indicates a good faith intention by a country to ratify the WHO FCTC and a political commitment not to undermine the objectives of the treaty. However, signature does not bind countries to the obligations of the WHO FCTC. In order for a country to be legally obligated to implement the provisions of the WHO FCTC countries must become parties to the treaty. They can do so through ratification, acceptance, approval, formal confirmation or accession.

Most countries that have become parties to the WHO FCTC did so through ratification, a legal action indicating a country's consent to be bound by the terms of the treaty. Acceptance and approval following signature are other processes by which countries can become parties to the WHO FCTC and have the same legal effect as ratification. Formal confirmation is a process open to regional economic integration organizations (for example, the European Union) to become parties to the WHO FCTC and also has the same legal effect as ratification. However, members of an international organization that has become a party do not themselves become parties by virtue of this act.

Ratification (or acceptance, approval or formal confirmation) is an option only for countries that have signed the WHO FCTC. Countries and regional economic integration organizations that have not signed the WHO FCTC can become parties through the one-step process of accession, which has the same legal effect as ratification.

All of these processes require a country's head of state, head of government or other legally authorized government representative to deposit an instrument of ratification or legal equivalent with the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN Headquarters in New York), which serves as the Depositary for the Convention. The acceptance by the UN of the deposit of the instrument of ratification - not the approval of ratification at national level -- establishes that a country is a party to the WHO FCTC and thus bound by the treaty's obligations.

The WHO FCTC entered into force on February 27, 2005, 90 days following November 29, 2004, the date that the Depositary accepted the 40th instrument of ratification or legal equivalent. Therefore, the WHO FCTC entered into force on February 27, 2005 for all countries that became parties to the WHO FCTC on or before November 29, 2004. For all other countries, the WHO FCTC enters into force 90 days following the date they became a party to the treaty.

For more detailed information on these processes please see:

Signatories and Ratifications in the Americas



Signature Date

Ratification, Acceptance (A), Approval (AA), Formal confirmation(c), or Accession (a)

 Antigua and Barbuda  Antigua and Barbuda 28 June 2004  5 June 2006
   Argentina 25 September 2003  
 Bahamas Bahamas 29 June 2004  3 November 2009
 Barbados Barbados  28 June 2004  3 November 2005
 Belize Belize  26 September 2003  15 December 2005
 Bolivia Bolivia 27 February 2004  15 September 2005
 Brazil Brazil 16 June 2003  3 November 2005
 Canada Canada 15 July 2003  26 November 2004
 Chile Chile 25 September 2003  13 June 2005
 Colombia Colombia    10 April 2008 (a)
 Costa Rica Costa Rica 3 July 2003  21 August 2008
 Cuba Cuba  29 June 2004  
 Dominica Dominica 29 June 2004  24 July 2006
 Dominican Republic Dominican Republic    
 Ecuador  Ecuador 22 March 2004  25 July 2006
 El Salvador El Salvador  18 March 2004  21 July 2014
 Grenada Grenada 29 June 2004  14 August 2007
 Guatemala Guatemala 25 September 2003  16 November 2005
 Guyana Guyana    15 September 2005 (a)
 Haiti Haiti 23 July 2003  
 Honduras Honduras 18 June 2004  16 February 2005
 Jamaica Jamaica 24 September 2003  7 July 2005
 Mexico Mexico 12 August 2003  28 May 2004
 Nicaragua Nicaragua 7 June 2004  9 April 2008
 Panama Panama 26 September 2003  16 August 2004
 Paraguay Paraguay 16 June 2003  26 September 2006
 Peru Peru 21 April 2004  30 November 2004
 Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Kitts and Nevis 29 June 2004  21 June 2011
 Saint Lucia Saint Lucia 29 June 2004  7 November 2005
 Saint Vincet nad the Grenadines Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 14 June 2004  29 October 2010
 Suriname Suriname 24 June 2004  16 December 2008
 Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago 27 August 2003  19 August 2004
 United States United States of America 10 May 2004  
 Uruguay Uruguay 19 June 2003  9 September 2004
 Venezuela Venezuela 22 September 2003  27 June 2006

Last update: November 2010

What is the Conference of the Parties?

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and is comprised of all the Parties to the Convention.  It's purpose is to regularly review the implementation of the Convention and make decisions to promote its effective implementation, which may involve adopting protocols, annexes, and amendments to the Convention.  The COP has met three times since the signing of the treaty.  In order to participate in an upcoming COP, countries must ratify the Convention at least 90 days before the session.

First Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 1)

Held in Geneva in February 2006, the first session initiated development of possible protocols on cross-border advertising, sponsorship, and promotion and on illicit trade in tobacco products and initiated the elaboration of guidelines on Articles 8 (protection from exposure to tobacco smoke) and 9 (regulation of the contents of tobacco smoke).

Second Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 2)

Held in Bangkok, Thailand in June 2007, the second session adopted guidelines for the implementation of Article 8, elaborated guidelines for Articles 9 and 10 (regulation of tobacco product disclosures), and established an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on a Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

Third Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 3)

At its third session in November 2008 held in Durban, South Africa, the Conference of the Parties (COP) adopted guidelines for implementation of Articles 5.3, 11, & 13 of the WHO FCTC. These articles focus on the protection of public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry; packaging and labeling of tobacco products; and tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, respectively. 

What is the Intergovenmental Negotiating Body on a Product on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products?

At its second meeting in July 2007 the Conference of the Parties (COP) decided (FCTC/CP2 [12]) to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), open to all Parties to draft and negotiate a protocol on illicit trade in tobacco products that extend and complement the provisions of Article 15 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. According to this decision, the INB held its first meeting in Geneva in February 2008, followed by a second meeting in October 2008. It decided at its third meeting, held in November 2008 that the third meeting of the INB will be held in Geneva from 28 June to 5 July 2009. The Office of the ONI has six members, each of which represents a region of WHO. The current Office of the ONI is made up of representatives of the European Community, Ghana, India, Mexico, Federated States of Micronesia and Oman.

First Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on a Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (INB 1)

The first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) on a Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was held in Geneva from February 11-16, 2008. Representatives of 132 Parties as well as observers - States non-Parties, intergovernmental organizations and nongovernmental organizations - participated in the session. The template for a protocol on illicit trade prepared by the expert group established at the first session of the COP was used by the INB as a basis for initiating the drafting negotiations. Parties discussed the need for a comprehensive set of provisions to secure the supply chain of tobacco products regarding, inter alia: licensing, anti-money laundering provisions, tracking and tracing, record-keeping, additional security and preventive measures, enhanced law enforcement capacity, effective deterrent measures, search, confiscation and seizures, destruction and disposal, proceeds of crime and seizure of assets, and international cooperation. The Chairperson of the INB (Mr Ian Walton-George, European Community), with the support of the Convention Secretariat and relevant experts, elaborated a chairperson's text which was submitted to the second session of the INB.

Second Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on a Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (INB 2)

The second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) was held in Geneva from October 20-25, 2008. It was attended by representatives of 133 Parties, as well as 16 States non-Parties, two intergovernmental organizations and nine nongovernmental organizations accredited as observers to the Conference of the Parties. The Chairperson's text was accepted as the basis for negotiations. Particular issues were raised about the scope and the title of the protocol. It was also requested that the text includes references to the primacy of public health objective and to the linkage between illicit trade and the tobacco industry. The INB examined the Chairperson's text, focusing on supply chain control, enforcement, and international cooperation.  The INB also requested the Chairperson to elaborate a revised Chairperson's text for consideration at its third session, taking into account the discussions and proposals made at the second session.

Third Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on a Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (INB 3)

The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) on a Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was held in Geneva from June 28 to July 5, 2009 .

- Download the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products


10th Anniversary of entry into force of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control - On 27 February 2015, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) reaches 10 years since it entered into force. To mark this milestone, PAHO/WHO organized a 10th Anniversary event on 3 March 2015.