Dr Carwyn Hooper, Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics and Law at St George's, University of London, says: "Ten years ago the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) came into force. It was not the first international health treaty negotiated by the WHO, but in many ways it was the most remarkable. Achieving global consensus around any kind of public health treaty is quite a feat. So achieving a consensus when the main target of the treaty was, in effect, that most slippery and dangerous of customers – Big Tobacco – was close to miraculous.


"Within a year, 168 states had signed the treaty and many more are now parties to the convention. As the WHO loudly (and rightly) trumpets, this makes it “one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in the history of the United Nations”.

"In the decade that has passed since the FCTC earthquake shook the international health law landscape, the global public health community has increasingly turned its attention to another industry: Big Alcohol. So far the WHO has stopped short of using its authority to create a Framework Convention on Alcohol Control (FCAC).

"Instead it has opted for a more softly-softly approach. This has primarily taken the form of a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol which was endorsed by the 63rd World Health Assembly in 2010. This strategy is designed to tackle the growing impact of alcohol on individuals and society. However, as a “portfolio of policy options and measures that could be considered for implementation and adjusted as appropriate at the national level” it growls more than it bites."

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