I am pleased to convey my greetings to all those gathered for the Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Last September, the international community joined forces at the United Nations to launch a global campaign to curb deaths from Non-Communicable Diseases.
One of the gravest risk factors is tobacco. Tobacco kills by causing cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases. Every year, about 5 million people die from using tobacco. Another 600,000 people die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
The world has established strong tools to fight tobacco use and protect public health policies from being diluted by the tobacco industry. These efforts have enjoyed widespread support. Indeed, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is one of the most rapidly endorsed treaties in United Nations history.
This first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO is making a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Some countries have reduced smoking by up to 25 per cent within only three years by implementing the Framework Convention.
Let us continue to build on this important progress, stamp out the tobacco epidemic and pursue a vision of a tobacco-free world. I thank you for your commitment to these life-saving goals and wish the Seoul Conference great success.