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Could international human rights obligations motivate countries to implement tobacco cessation support?

6 July 2022

By: Benjamin Mason Meier, Martin Raw, Donna Shelley, Chris Bostic, Anahita Gupta, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Laurent Huber, Wiley Online Library

Abstract

Background and aims

The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) seeks to realize the right to health through national tobacco control policies. However, few states have met their obligations under Article 14 of the FCTC to develop evidence-based policies to support tobacco cessation. This article examines how human rights obligations could provide a legal and moral basis for states to implement greater support for individuals to overcome their addiction to tobacco.

Analysis

The United Nations (UN) has a well-established legal framework for promoting human rights, looking to the right to health to realize health autonomy. Where addiction undermines autonomy, it is widely acknowledged that addiction presents a significant barrier to cessation for individuals who use tobacco, undermining the right to health. The UN human rights system could, therefore, provide a complementary basis for monitoring state obligations under Article 14 of the FCTC, identifying challenges to FCTC implementation and motivating states to support tobacco cessation.

Conclusions

The United Nations’ human rights system offers a mechanism that could be used to monitor Framework Convention on Tobacco Control implementation in national policy, facilitating accountability for the progressive realization of cessation support.