Objective: To describe, as of July 2011, the status of tobacco control legislation in Africa in three key areas of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)-(1) Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke, (2) Packaging and labelling of tobacco products, and (3) Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
Methods: Review and analysis of tobacco control legislation in Africa, media reports, journal articles, tobacco industry documents and data published in the 2011 WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic.
Results: Modest progress in FCTC implementation in Africa with many countries having legislation or policies on the protection from exposure to tobacco smoke, however, only a handful of countries meet the standards of the FCTC Article 8 and its Guidelines particularly with regards to designated smoking areas. Little progress on packaging and labelling of tobacco products, with few countries having legislation meeting the minimum standards of the FCTC Article 11 and its Guidelines. Mauritius is the only African country with graphic or pictorial health warnings in place and has the largest warning labels in Africa. Slightly better progress in banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship has been shown by African countries, although the majority of legislation falls short of the standards of the FCTC Article 13 and its Guidelines. Despite their efforts, African countries' FCTC implementation at national level has not matched the strong regional commitment demonstrated during the FCTC treaty negotiations.
Conclusion: This study highlights the need for Africa to step up efforts to adopt and implement effective tobacco control legislation that is fully compliant with the FCTC. In order to achieve this, countries should prioritise resources for capacity building for drafting strong FCTC compliant legislation, research to inform policy and boost political will, and countering the tobacco industry which is a major obstacle to FCTC implementation in Africa.
Keywords: Africa; FCTC; Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; bans on cigarette advertising and promotions; cigarette labeling; clean-indoor air laws; legislation and jurisprudence; public smoking bans; smoke-free environments; tobacco control policies/interventions; tobacco industry interference.