Convention Secretariat joins UNOG to celebrate WNTD2019 and applauds its smoke and vape-free policy and cessation programme for staff

Secretariat of the WHO FCTC

The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) recently announced specific measures to strengthen its smoke and vape-free policy. Following the adoption of the resolution on smoke-free United Nations (UN) premises by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2008 which made all indoor UN premises smoke-free, UNOG has now taken steps to control smoking and vaping within its outdoor premises. Over the last few months, a total of 14 dedicated smoking and vaping shelters have been set up across the Palais des Nations grounds. As a result, smoking and vaping will no longer be permitted anywhere else within the UNOG perimeter.

To mark the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2019, UNOG has also on this day inaugurated a smoking cessation program for its staff members. This programme, which includes individual coaching sessions and cessation medication, is fully reimbursable for members of the United Nations Staff Mutual Insurance Society. In addition, the programme is also open to colleagues from other UN agencies who wish to participate.

Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa, the Head of the Convention Secretariat spoke at the opening of the smoking cessation programme and congratulated UNOG for showing leadership and taking a stand to protect the right to health and clean air for its thousands of staff and visitors. Additionally, she also pointed out that among smokers who are aware of the dangers of tobacco, most want to quit. Counselling and medication can more than double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will succeed. This is precisely why programmes like the one launched by UNOG are so important in helping reduce the number of smokers among its staff and thus posing an example to be followed by all workplaces within the UN system and beyond.

Secretariat of the WHO FCTC

The WHO FCTC is the Treaty that responds to the global tobacco epidemic. Through its 181 Parties, the WHO FCTC covers more than 90% of the world’s population. The WHO FCTC combines measures to reduce both demand for and supply of tobacco products, and includes other key provisions, such as a requirement that Parties act to protect public health policies from interference by commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

Implementation of the WHO FCTC is recognized as an accelerator for development and is included as Target 3.a of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNOG

The Secretariat of the WHO FCTC (Convention Secretariat) is an independent member of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable diseases (UNIATF)This task force established by the UN Secretary- General in 2013, created a mechanism across the UN system to address the global burden of NCDs. The Convention Secretariat leads the thematic group on tobacco control and one of the key areas of collaboration is the promotion of smoke-free UN Campuses worldwide. The Convention Secretariat also contributed to an an ECOSOC report on the work of the UNIATF members to support implementation of Target 3.a of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including to promote smoke-free UN premises.

Noting that second-hand smoke at the workplace is a fully preventable occupational health hazard, the Convention Secretariat welcomes this initiative and applauds UNOG for its move to protect the health and wellbeing of its employees.