(CPV) - “The World Health Organization calls for public awareness and Government resistance to the tobacco industry's increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine laws that protect people from the harms of tobacco”, said Dr Takeshi Kasai, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Vietnam marking “World No Tobacco Day 2012” (May 31).
Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly six million people each year. In Vietnam each year tobacco causes the premature deaths of an estimated 40,000 people and in the absence of effective measure to reduce tobacco use, is anticipated to reach 70,000 by 2030. In addition to the large population of active smokers, up to two-thirds of non-smokers, the majority of whom are women and children, are regularly exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke at home, at work and in public places.
As more and more countries move to fully meet their obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the tobacco industry's efforts to undermine the treaty are becoming more and more desperate. These include attempts to delay or weaken regulations on pictorial health warnings, on public smoking bans and on eliminating tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
"The goal of the industry is simple: to increase its profits at the cost of human misery. We must resist. Denounce industry interference wherever you see it," said Manila-based Dr Shin Young-soo, the WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.
Photo for illustration. (Source: Internet)
Besides trying to undermine public health laws, the tobacco industry is also engaging in so-called corporate social responsibility activities designed to enhance its public image, and to make people forget or overlook that its products cause widespread addiction, suffering and death.
As for the solution, transparency in dealing with the tobacco industry is a key to fighting their interference. As Vietnam’s National Assembly meets to vote on the Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harm, it is of great importance that the public health objectives of this draft law are protected from the conflicting interest of the tobacco industry.
On World No Tobacco Day, and throughout the year, the World Health Organization will inform policy-makers and the general public about the tobacco industry's nefarious and harmful interference with the WHO FCTC./.