The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first global health treaty, went into force in 2005. The FCTC's goal is to end the worldwide tobacco epidemic, which killed 100 million people in the 20th Century and, if unchecked, will take one billion lives in this century.

Today, there are 181 parties to the treaty. Argentina, Cuba, Haiti, Morocco, Switzerland and the United States are the sole United Nations member states yet to ratify the FCTC.

FCTC Article 13: Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship | FCTC Article 13 obliges the parties to use all constitutional means to ban, if possible, or to severely regulate, if necessary, tobacco promotion in all media, including across borders. WHO's guidelines for implementing Article 13 state:

Parties should take particular measures concerning the depiction of tobacco in entertainment media products, including requiring certification that no benefits have been received for any tobacco depictions, prohibiting the use of identifiable tobacco brands or imagery, requiring anti-tobacco advertisements and implementing a ratings or classification system that takes tobacco depictions into account.

Smoke-free movies: From evidence to action | In 2009, the World Health Organization published specific policy guidance related to on-screen smoking. This guidance was updated in 2011 and again in 2016 to cover trends in the media sector and reflect the experience of different governments around the world. Evidence-based policies recommended by WHO include:

1 | Adult-rating future media productions with tobacco imagery;

2 | Running strong anti-tobacco advertisements before films with smoking, in all media, regardless of the media production's age-classification;

3 | Requiring production executives to certify that no one associated with a production with smoking, regardless of its rating, received anything of value for the presence of that imagery;

4 | Ending display of tobacco brands in entertainment media, regardless of rating;

5 | Making media productions with tobacco imagery ineligible for public subsidies or 'incentives' such as production grants, tax credits or rebates.

Two individual sidebars:


Framework Convention on Tobacco Control:

• FCTC Secretariat

• FCTC text (2004)

• FCTC Article 13 guidelines (2008)

• Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship: Depiction of tobacco in entertainment media (2018)

Key WHO report:

• Smoke-free movies: From evidence to action (2015)


University of California, San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, sponsor of the Smokefree Movies initiative, is a World Health Organization collaborating center privileged to contribute to WHO's Smoke-free movies: From evidence to action and to support WHO's global strategy to end the tobacco epidemic in this generation.