With the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) closing for signature this week, nearly 90 per cent of the world’s countries have signed the treaty, which requires them to restrict tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, set new labelling and clean indoor air controls and strengthen laws clamping down on tobacco smuggling. The FCTC has become one of the most rapidly embraced UN conventions, with 167 WHO Member States and the European Community (EC) signing, and 23 countries ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding – thus making it law – just one year after the pact opened for signature in Geneva. More than half the required 40 ratifications are now in hand. “Although we have good reason to be confident, a relentless effort will still be needed for the foreseeable future,” WHO Director-General Dr Lee Jong-wook said. “Current projections show a rise of 31 per cent in tobacco-related deaths during the next 22 years, which will double the current death toll, bringing it to almost 10 million a year.” WHO urges countries that have signed to ratify the Treaty as soon as possible. “The sooner the 40 ratifications are in place, the sooner effective and coordinated actions within the Framework Convention at country level can begin,” said Catherine Le Galès-Camus, Assistant Director-General, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. The treaty, adopted unanimously by all 192 Member States in May last year, is the first public health treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It was designed to become a tool to manage what has become the single biggest preventable cause of death. There are currently an estimated 1.3 billion smokers worldwide. Half of them, some 650 million people, are expected to die prematurely of a tobacco-related disease.