Conference: Governance of Tobacco

Welcome  to the webpage for the conference on “Governance of Tobacco in the 21st Century: Strengthening National and International Policy for Global Health and Development,” which took place at Harvard University on February 26-27, 2013. Here you will find a brief description of the conference, links to speakers’ presentations, and other information and teaching tools . We hope that you will find the information both timely and relevant. A meeting report is now in preparation, for the summer of 2013.

The conference was a collaboration among the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the World Health Organization, other co-sponsors (listed below). Attendees gathered with a shared commitment to make significant advances in the dialogue on the global governance of tobacco.  To move this issue forward, we brought together international experts from global governance organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, and scientists.

Over 1 billion people are predicted to die prematurely from smoking in the 21st century – a tenfold increase over the past century. Governments have worked to protect public health by negotiating a set of global rules to better govern tobacco use, encapsulated in the 2005 World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC). In recent years, governments have begun to implement this treaty at country-level by adopting policies such as tobacco taxes, bans or restrictions on advertising, health warnings on packaging, product regulations, and clean air policies, all of which have been shown to be effective in reducing tobacco use. However, such policies have faced legal challenges at both national and international levels as violations of countries’ obligations under various bilateral, regional or multilateral trade or investment agreements. Furthermore, some tobacco-growing or tobacco-exporting countries fear that strengthening global tobacco control may restrict their opportunities for economic growth. Ultimately, the governance of tobacco falls not only under the remit of health authorities, but also lies within the sphere of trade, finance and agricultural policy.

We learned many lessons from this conference. In addition to strengthening efforts to implement and enforce the FCTC at the country level, we must also work diligently to incorporate the issue of tobacco into global efforts to combat chronic disease and poverty, and to promote economic development.

We hope you will join us in this effort!


Harvard School of Public Health; Harvard Global Health Institute; World Health Organization; American Legacy Foundation; International Development Research Centre, Canada; The Medical University of South Carolina; American Cancer Society; International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project; University of Waterloo (ITC); O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University; Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Johns Hopkins University; Framework Convention Alliance; Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; Action on Smoking and Health; Harvard Law School; and Southeast Asian Tobacco Alliance (SEATCA)