Assessment of short reports using a human rights-based approach to tobacco control to the Commitee on Economics, Cultural and Social Rights

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Abstract

Background

The health impact of tobacco use remains a major global public health concern and a human rights issue. The Human Rights and Tobacco Control Network (HRTCN) was established to increase the visibility of tobacco as a human rights issue. HRTCN submitted short reports to the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights evaluating individual nations' tobacco control policies and offering recommendations.

Methods

HRTCN reviewed Concluding Observations documents for nations for which the HRTCN submitted reports. If tobacco was mentioned in the Concluding Observations through acknowledging the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ratification, policy changes or discussing tobacco in the recommendations, this was scored as a positive finding. HRTCN also reviewed Concluding Observations for nations for which HRTCN did not submit reports as a comparison.

Results

Thirty-eight HRTCN reports were submitted and tobacco was mentioned in Concluding Observations for 11 nations for a rate of 28.9%. In a comparison set of Concluding Observations (n=59), 7% had comments or recommendations relative to tobacco.

Conclusions

This was not a controlled study and the 28.9% ’success rate' for impacting the Concluding Observations, although encouraging, is less than optimal—and leaves room for improvement. The higher rate of tobacco mentions for the cases where the HRTCN short reports were submitted provides preliminary indications that the short reports may have potential to increase the state focus on tobacco control. Future work will seek to improve the design and scope of the reports, and the specificity of the background information and recommendations offered.

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