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Saturday, March 01, 2003

Smoking Them Out

Here's some good news for a change. International cooperation to try to stamp out a real mass killer. And for once Geramny and the US are on the same side, even if it appears to be the wrong one. I'm all for constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, but there doesn't seem to be any US problem in banning the promotion of products associated with the narco-traffic or prostitution trade, nor any German one with todays admirer's of yesterday's Nazis. Still, progress is progress, and should be welcomed. Tying up first world addiction is just one part of the problem, the great saving will come if we can put a break on the spread to the developing world.....

In a global bid to quit a habit that kills almost five million people a year, nearly 170 countries backed on Saturday a tough pact against smoking, including advertising bans and pledges to boost tobacco taxes. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world's first international treaty on health, was concluded after a marathon 18-hour final session at the end of two weeks of hard bargaining by World Health Organisation (WHO) member states. However, the United States and Germany, two of 171 countries attending the talks, said they could not accept parts of the deal, although they cannot stop it being endorsed by WHO's annual assembly in May.The pact seeks to tackle the "devastating" consequences of tobacco use and exposure to smoke with measures ranging from a halt to advertising and sponsorship within five years to a crackdown on smuggling and a ban on cigarette sales to minors."The spread of the tobacco epidemic is a global problem with serious consequences for public health that calls for...an effective, appropriate and comprehensive international response," the treaty declared.Many of the pact's policies are already applied in rich countries, but for much of the developing world, where deaths from tobacco-related disease are set to surge, it marks the first attempt to fight what WHO says is already the biggest cause of premature death.
Source: Reuters News

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