The New York Times > Health > Worldwide Anti-Tobacco Treaty Takes Effect
GENEVA, Feb. 27 (AP) - A global anti-tobacco treaty came into effect on Sunday, but a leading expert said it needed strengthening quickly if it was to be effective in curbing smoking, which claims five million lives a year.
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The treaty requires countries that ratify it to restrict tobacco advertising and sponsorship, put tougher health warnings on cigarettes and limit use of language like "low tar" and "light."
Of the 168 countries that signed the accord, only 57 have ratified it. China and the United States are among those that have not ratified the pact.
The treaty, which was completed in May 2003, aims to reduce substantially the number of deaths from tobacco-related illnesses, like cancer and heart disease, which the W.H.O. estimates kills one smoker every 6.5 seconds.
The world has an estimated 1.2 billion smokers and W.H.O. surveys show that smoking rates among 13- to 15-year-old children are about 20 percent.
Health officials say they fear those figures will explode as the world's population grows.
By 2010, the annual death toll is expected to double, to 10 million - with 70 percent of the victims in developing countries least able to pay for treating smoking-related illnesses.