UN anti-smoking campaign spotlighted

08:22, June 01, 2011      

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The missions to the United Nations of Norway, Uruguay and Thailand opened a campaign on Tuesday -- World No Tobacco Day -- for support of the World Health Organization's (WHO) tobacco control effort.

"Most of the people who die of tobacco use live in countries where cigarettes cost about as much as a packet of chewing gum," the organizers said in announcing a press event at UN headquarters in New York. "In many countries a small increase would mean huge gains in lives and dollars saved."

It focused on tobacco use as a main cause of non-communicable diseases and promoted the UN High-Level Meeting on Non Communicable Diseases in September.

More than 170 nations -- out of 192 member states in the United Nations -- have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, "but its implementation has been spotty," the trio of nations said. "In many countries tobacco taxation is an underused source of public revenue."

New York City Commissioner for the UN Marjorie Tiven told of a smoking ban implemented only last week for the city's parks, beaches and public pedestrian malls, such as the newly opened one in Times Square. She said that since 2002, when city legislation prohibiting smoking in all work places -- including bars and restaurants -- took effect, smoking has dropped 27 percent and deaths from smoking-related illnesses declined 17 percent.

In New York City the average price of a packet of 20 cigarettes is over 11 U.S. dollars, Tiven said.

Dr. Prabhat Jha, the University of Toronto (Canada) Endowed Professor in Disease Control and chair of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said one of his main research conclusions is, "The most important role for governments ... is to take tobacco seriously as a big cause of death and a big cause of poverty."

The second was not only necessary to prevent children from taking up smoking but "to get the current 2 billion smokers in the world to quit smoking," he said. "The third was taxation. World wide doubling of the price would reduce consumption by about a third and probably save about a 100 million lives over the next few decades."

Taxation was particularly effective among the poor and the young because they are "more price responsive for economic reasons, " Jhan said.

Source: Xinhua
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