The online news portal of TV5
GENEVA -- The World Health Organization (WHO) called on governments worldwide on Wednesday to be more vigilant against the increasingly aggressive attacks from the industry which undermine policies that protect people from harms of tobacco.
The call was made one day ahead of the World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated with a focus on fighting against tobacco industry interference.
"In recent years, multinational tobacco companies have been shamelessly fuelling a series of legal actions against governments that have been at the forefront of the war against tobacco. The industry is now stepping out of the shadows and into court rooms," said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.
"We must now stand together with these governments that have had the courage to do the right thing to protect their citizens," she said.
Under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which was endorsed by 175 countries, governments are encouraged to create 100 percent smoke-free, enclosed work and public places; to inform the public of tobacco harms through large and strong pictorial warning on tobacco packages; and to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
The tobacco industry, however, is hard at work to undermine the treaty, including taking governments to court. In fact, the governments of Australia, Norway and Uruguay are currently battling tobacco industry law suits in their national courts.
On World No Tobacco Day, WHO is releasing a technical resource paper and global brief based on 2008 guidelines for implementation of this Article of the treaty to help guide countries on ways to combat tobacco industry interference.
The paper covers a range of issues including: maneuvering to hijack the political and legislative process; exaggerating the economic importance of the tobacco industry; manipulating public opinion to gain the appearance of respectability; fabricating support through front groups; discrediting proven science and intimidating governments with litigation or the threat of litigation.
Worldwide, tobacco kills almost 6 million people every year and is one of the leading preventable causes of illness and death around the world.
WHO estimates that by 2030 tobacco will kill more than 8 million people every year, with four out of five of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries.
Tobacco is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardio vascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.