UN chief calls for strengthened efforts to cut tobacco consumption across world

08:13, June 01, 2011      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday called for strengthened efforts to cut tobacco consumption across the world, saying that "tobacco use makes us poorer -- in health and economic terms."

Ban, in his message to mark World No Tobacco Day, said, "This year's observance of World No Tobacco Day falls in the midst of preparations for September's United Nations high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases."

"By controlling tobacco, we can go a long way towards addressing many of these chronic ailments, including cancer and heart disease," he said.

"The use of tobacco, which is highly addictive, killed approximately 100 million people in the 20th century, and unless we act, it could kill up to a billion in this century," Ban said.

"The greatest tool in our arsenal is the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control," he said. "Since it was opened for signature in 2003, more than 170 countries have become parties, making it one of the most rapidly embraced treaties in United Nations history."

"From reducing demand through higher prices and taxes to restricting advertising and sponsorship, from warnings on packages to prohibitions against sales to minors, countries are using the treaty's provisions to protect their citizens," the secretary- general said. "They are sending a clear message that tobacco use makes us poorer -- in health and economic terms."

"The treaty's comprehensive defense against industry tactics includes measures to reduce the illicit trade in tobacco products, address issues of liability, support economically viable alternative crops and protect public health policies from undue pressure," he said.

"The Framework Convention is clearly working to safeguard health in all countries that have adopted and enforced it. Yet, as the reports from States Parties show, we have a long way to go," he said. "I urge all parties to fully meet their obligations under the treaty, and I call on the few countries that have not yet become parties to do so. Together, we can halt the tobacco epidemic and the many problems it brings."

When the United Nations set the first World No Tobacco Day in May 2003, the world body adopted the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Within the first year, 168 countries and the European Community had signed the treaty.

India, Indonesia, Argentina and Ethiopia are among the few remaining countries not to have signed the treaty, which spells out a series of measures aimed at reducing use of tobacco control, such as restrictions on sales to minors, the introduction of taxes on cigarettes to reduce demand, and the implementation of comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising.

"On this World No Tobacco Day, let us push for progress that will cut tobacco-related deaths and enliven the battle against other non-communicable diseases, helping to create a healthier world for all," Ban added.

Source: Xinhua
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