“The fact that so many countries signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in its first week demonstrates how strongly it is supported and how meaningful it is to diverse populations and situations,” WHO Director-General Gro Brundtland said of the treaty, which opened for signature on 16 June during a formal ceremony at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. The first international treaty negotiated under WHO auspices, the FCTC requires countries to restrict tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, set new labelling and clean indoor air controls and strengthen legislation to clamp down on tobacco smuggling. Tax and price increases would also be considered. The FCTC demand and supply reduction measures is intended to protect billions worldwide from the devastating impact of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke. Tobacco kills nearly 5 million people every year, according to WHO. “It is only through a concerted worldwide effort that we can make global tobacco control happen. The benefits for health will be immense,” Dr. Brundtland stated. “This group of early signatories is exemplary and others are encouraged to follow suit in the shortest possible time frame.”The signature does not yet bind countries to the treaty, but is an expression of political support and of good faith to abide by the principles it enshrines in the interim period until ratification. As soon as 40 countries ratify the Convention, it becomes law for those countries and thereafter, for other countries that ratify it.In addition to signing the FCTC, Norway accepted it on 16 June. Ratification, acceptance, approval and accession are international acts by which states that have already signed the Convention establish on the international plane their consent to be bound by it.From 30 June to 29 June 2004 the FCTC will be available for signature at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where it is deposited with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Several more countries have informed WHO of their intention to sign shortly.