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The Global War on Tobacco

, 240 pages

11 halftones, 9 line drawings

June 2015



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The Global War on Tobacco

Mapping the World's First Public Health Treaty

The tobacco industry has capitalized on numerous elements of globalization—including trade liberalization, foreign direct investment, and global communications—to expand into countries where effective tobacco control programs are not in place. As a consequence, tobacco is currently the leading cause of preventable death in the world. Each year, it kills more people than HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

Amid evidence of an emerging pandemic, a committed group of public health professionals and institutions sought in the mid-1990s to challenge the tobacco industry’s expansion by negotiating a binding international law under the auspices of the World Health Organization. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)—the first collective global response to the causation of avoidable chronic disease—was one of the most quickly ratified treaties in United Nations history. In The Global War on Tobacco, Heather Wipfli tells the engaging story of the FCTC, from its start as an unlikely civil society proposal to its enactment in 178 countries as of June 2014. Wipfli also reveals how globalization offers anti-tobacco advocates significant cooperative opportunities to share knowledge and address cross-border public health problems.

The book—the first to delve deeply into the origin and development of the FCTC—seeks to advance understanding of how non-state actors, transnational networks, and international institutionalization can impact global governance for health. Case studies from a variety of diverse high-, middle-, and low-income countries provide real-world examples of the success or failure of tobacco control. Aimed at public health professionals and students, The Global War on Tobacco is a fascinating look at how international relations is changing to respond to the modern global marketplace and protect human health.

Heather Wipfli is the associate director of the University of Southern California Institute for Global Health.

" The Global War on Tobacco is a major contribution not just to tobacco control research but also to research on global governance and public health. A thorough and well-documented scholarly effort. Wipfli tells the story of the FCTC in a compelling way, making the book read like a page-turning thriller."

"Heather Wipfli has captured the purpose driven approach to WHO's first treaty. She documents the role of epidemiology in sounding the alarm and the power of sustained leadership needed to overcome powerful political obstacles to promote health. This book will inspire the next generation of health leaders to do even more."

"The landmark Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is the World Health Organization’s first public health treaty. As an 'insider' at WHO as the treaty was developed, Wipfli captures the negotiations involved. Her case studies lend insight into the struggles between FCTC advocates and national politics as well as the tobacco industry. This engaging book should be read by everyone working in tobacco control and all those who view the FCTC as a model for other global threats to health."

"This is a unique, aptly titled book."

"It is a thorough and yet succinct analysis of the forces and trends that led to the negotiation of the FCTC and the treaty’s immediate results—both intended and unintended."

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