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Human rights and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: mutually reinforcing systems1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 September 2011

Oscar A. Cabrera*
Georgetown University Law Center
Lawrence O. Gostin*
Georgetown University Law Center


This article explores the connection between human rights and tobacco control, and in particular, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). We address rights-based arguments used by the tobacco industry to argue against tobacco regulation. We demonstrate the weakness of these arguments, and that tobacco control and human rights are, in fact, not in conflict, but are mutually reinforcing. We also offer counter-arguments in favour of tobacco regulation based on international human rights obligations. Moreover, we argue that international human rights law and human rights bodies can provide tobacco control advocates with avenues for international monitoring and enforceability, which are lacking in the FCTC.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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Some of the arguments developed in this article are based on a report drafted by the co-authors and staff of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law (2011). The authors would like to thank Maximiliano Levin, O'Neill Institute research assistant, for his research support. We would also like to thank the O'Neill Institute staff and fellows that reviewed early drafts of this article, in particular, Juan Carballo, Kate Stewart and Susan Kim.


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