Press Release WHO/94
10 December 1998
WHO WELCOMES BRITISH TOBACCO
Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) today welcomed the British government's Tobacco White Paper which recommends introducing global tobacco marketing standards and pledges support for the WHO's long term mission to decrease tobacco consumption. Entitled Smoking Kills, the White Paper, a major policy document issued in London today, calls for worldwide action for a total ban on tobacco advertising.
"This paper shows tremendous support for our initiative against tobacco. We shall be studying its contents carefully over the next few weeks and call for urgent discussions to ensure joint implementation of those aspects which require collective action," she said.
According to WHO estimates, there are currently 3.5 million deaths a year from tobacco, a figure expected to rise to about 10 million by 2030. By that date, based on current smoking trends, tobacco is predicted to be the leading cause of disease burden in the world, causing about one in eight deaths.
Seventy per cent of those deaths will occur in developing countries. The tobacco industry is increasingly targeting children and adolescents in developing countries. Launched in July 1998 by Dr Brundtland, WHO's Tobacco-Free Initiative aims to promote effective policies and interventions to reduce tobacco consumption and thereby the burden of disease. It is also promoting the development of an effective International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (IFC).
The British government's White Paper welcomes "the priority that the WHO under its new leadership is giving to tobacco issues and in particular, the proposal to develop an IFC."
Criticising the European Union's present common policy on tobacco growing which results in exports to countries outside the EU, the paper urges "an increase in the funding of the Community Tobacco Fund" which supports research into the effects of smoking and alternative ways for tobacco farmers to make a living.
The WHO welcomes the British government's pledge to work with other governments "towards a global ban on tobacco advertising".
For further information, journalists can contact Gregory Hartl, WHO, Geneva. Telephone (41 22) 791 44 58. Fax (41 22) 791 48 58. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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