Following pressure from governments across the world, and discussions last year with UN agency the World Health Organization, three of the planet’s largest tobacco multinationals today announce the voluntary global curtailment of certain sales and marketing practices.

The trio – America’s Philip Morris, UK-headquartered British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco – have voluntarily agreed to adhere to specified minimum global standards. These include the removal of all tobacco ads from television and the abandonment of celebrity endorsements – already banned either by law or voluntary agreement in the US, Canada and Western Europe.

The accord also limits where and how ads can be run, for example the permissable size of billboards. It also confines print advertising to publications with youth readerships of less than 25% and bans tobacco ads from external covers or wrappings. Most importantly, from the end of next year the three groups have agreed not to advertise on TV unless they can ensure that minors won’t see their commercials – a virtually impossible proviso.

The agreement is chronologically several steps ahead of a United Nations’ draft global treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, calling for rigorous and enforceable limits on tobacco marketing. The treaty is currently in process of formulation [strangulation, some say] by delegates from 191 member-nations.

In addition to the main signatories, the voluntary agreement is also endorsed by four other companies: Compania Industrial de Tabacos of Bolivia; Grupo Iberoamericano de Fomento of Spain; Papastratos of Greece; and the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly.

Two other American tobacco giants, R J Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco are not signatories as they market their brands only in the US where draconian restrictions already apply.

News source: Wall Street Journal