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World Health Organisation seeks to stub out cigarette smoking

WHO tobacco graphic: Oct 2000.


Member states of the World Health Organisation (WHO) are meeting in Geneva on Monday to discuss a treaty, which would impose tough new controls on tobacco.

The options being considered range from a total ban on advertising and sponsorship by tobacco companies, to measures to dissuade young people from taking up smoking.

Other strategies listed in the proposed treaty include a ban on smoking in public places and tax increases to make cigarettes more expensive.

Tobacco manufacturers fiercely oppose the plan, arguing that the WHO is overstepping its authority by trying to regulate the manufacture, promotion and use of tobacco around the world.

But in recent days major tobacco firms have inadvertently strengthened the WHO's position by admitting that cigarettes are addictive and harmful.

In an address to the WHO last week, the vice president of corporate affairs of Philip Morris Europe, David Davies, said: "We agree that smoking is addictive and causes diseases in smokers."

But a senior official at British American Tobacco, Christopher Proctor, said that despite the known health risks, a billion adults still chose to smoke.

The WHO sees its anti-smoking drive as a top priority. Cigarettes kill more than four million people around the world every year, and that figure is expected to rise to 10 million annually by 2003.

swissinfo with agencies

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