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The American Public Health Association (APHA), at its November annual meeting in Boston, adopted a strong policy statement calling for an international alcohol treaty modelled on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest, largest and most diverse organisation of public health professionals in the world.
Drawing heavily on the experience of the tobacco control movement, the APHA is urging the World Health Organization to adopt a Framework Convention on Alcohol Control (FCAC), akin to the FCTC adopted in 2003. APHA believes that an FCAC could help thwart the expansion of alcohol markets, strengthen national and local regulation of alcohol, and help reduce the harmful consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Dr Georges C Benjamin, executive director of APHA, says that the global burden of disease for alcohol is approaching that of tobacco, and the current international climate favours such a treaty. However, the alcohol control movement is keenly aware of the challenges confronting the FCTC, the need for strong enforcement, the continuing attempts of corporate involvement in national and local policy development, and the threats presented by global trade agreements. By learning from the tobacco movement, a framework convention on alcohol would help strengthen the hand of countries in setting policies that protect human health. It may take years of strong advocacy before an alcohol convention becomes a reality, but calls for it by the World Medical Association and now the APHA are important steps.