July 29, 2016

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

FCTC followed by accelerated implementation of tobacco advertising bans, but effect is fading

Heikki Hiilamo and I just published “FCTC followed by accelerated implementation of tobacco advertising bans” in Tobacco Control.  This paper shows a statistically demonstrable positive effect on implementation of national advertising bans but, as with similar positive effects on smokefree laws and health warning labels, the effect is fading.
These three papers point to the need to redouble efforts at implementation, especially in countries with limited state capacity.
In addition, in the process of collecting the data, we also identified problems with the reporting system to the FCTC Secretariat, particularly the need for independent verification of the parties’ reports.  In particular, we concluded, “The FCTC does not currently have a clear mechanism to ensure that parties are notified when they are non-compliant. The FCTC Conference of the Parties (COP) established an expert group to review reporting arrangements that will make recommendation to the COP to be held in November 2016. It is imperative that a more formal validated reporting mechanism be implemented under the FCTC.”
Here are the key findings from the paper:
▸ Compared with other demand reduction provisions of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the Parties have been slow to adopt complete tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans.
▸ Since adoption of FCTC lower middle-income countries have improved the coverage of TV and radio, print media, billboards, point-of-sale and sponsorship bans more than high-income countries or upper middle-income countries.
▸ Implementation of complete advertising bans slowed after 2007.
▸ In 2014 as many as 56 countries had weaker direct and 58 countries weaker indirect advertising bans than previously reported, suggesting that the tobacco industry is getting more successful in circumventing the bans.
Here is the abstract:

Objectives We sought to evaluate changes in countries’ enacting advertising bans after the effect of ratifying the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Methods We compared adoption of advertising bans on five areas (TV and radio, print media, billboards,
point-of-sale, sponsorship) in countries that did versus did not ratify the FCTC, accounting for years since the ratification of the Convention.
Results On average, passage of complete advertising bans accelerated after FCTC ratification. The development was strongest among lower middle-income countries. Lack of state capacity was  associated with lower likelihood of countries implementing complete advertising bans. Implementation of complete advertising bans slowed after 2007.
Conclusions Implementation of FCTC Article 13 was followed by increased progress towards complete advertising bans, but progress is incomplete, especially among low-income countries. Low-income countries need comprehensive support to implement FCTC as part of a broad effort to reinvigorate progress on global implementation of the FCTC. Enforcing complete bans requires constant monitoring and attacking of tobacco industry efforts to circumvent them.

The citation for the paper is Hiilamo H, Glantz S. FCTC followed by accelerated implementation of tobacco advertising bans.  Tob Control 2016; Published Online First: 28 July 2016 doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053007.  It is available here.

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