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February 2015 marked 10 years since the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) entered into force. While enormous progress has been made in curtailing the epidemic, the epicentre continues to be in countries that can least afford the devastating health, social and economic costs. Despite the legal framework provided by the FCTC to stymie the activities of the industry and protect public policy from its interests, the industry continues its attempts to obstruct effective measures, either through cultivating direct relationships with government officials or resorting to legal mechanisms to intimidate governments. In this issue, we provide an overview from the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH), held in Abu Dhabi from 17–21 March. A significant announcement at WCTOH was the creation of an anti tobacco litigation fund, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to combat tobacco industry attempts to weaken tobacco control through legal challenges. We also look at recent attempts by the tobacco industry, supported by the British High Commissioner, in Pakistan to reverse legislation to increase the size of graphic health warnings, and two recent reports from Bangladesh on child labour and tobacco cultivation. On a brighter note, the Indian state of Punjab has recently banned loose tobacco sales, a move that may pave the way for stronger legislation elsewhere in India.

All articles written by Marita Hefler unless otherwise attributed. Ideas and items for News Analysis should be sent to:


The 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) was held in Abu Dhabi from March 17–21 2015, the first time it has been held in the Middle East. While this did not come without challenges (approximately 60 delegates, the majority from Bangladesh, were denied visas – see, the conference was attended by 2,184 delegates from …

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