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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world

July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 2:40 PM

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world: civil society response

Mary Assunta, M, Phil, P, H, University of Sydney, School of Public Health, Camperdown, Sydney, Australia

Objective: To illustrate the importance of resourcing and capacity building for civil society to play a more effective role in tobacco control.

Method: An assessment of NGO activism through the Framework Convention Alliance's past activities.

Results: With the forecast 70% of the global burden of tobacco related deaths will be on the Global South, the impacts will be disproportionately harmful to the most vulnerable, particularly children and the poor. NGOs and civil society are already in the forefront of tobacco control in many developing countries. NGOs have pioneered creative ways to move public health policy forward with strategic partnerships and innovative research. The WHO FCTC helped spur the formation of new NGOs and coalitions, and encouraged existing ones to increase their activities.

There can be no economic justice without addressing equity and access. While more funds are being spent on tobacco control compared to previously, it is still not adequate and most of the money is still spent in developed countries. To their credit, several funding organizations, Northern NGOs and several Northern governments have these past few years found ways to put some of this money to good use in the South. NGOs in the South have reciprocated by being strategic, resourceful, better organised and stretched each dollar.

In order to ensure the FCTC is properly implemented, civil society participation is invaluable and hence needs to be strengthened and better resourced. Cooperation and collaboration among civil society, government and international institutions is more crucial now than ever before.