28th December 2017

World Health Organization: Smoking kills more than 7 million a year

The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed today in a report that tobacco companies are marketing new products claiming they are less harmful, such as devices that "heat tobacco instead of burning it", evaporate tobacco to produce nicotine-based aerosols, and fund organizations that claim to work for a tobacco-free world.

The report mentioned that the world has experienced similar tactics in other countries, from Uruguay to Australia, where tobacco companies are launching costly legal challenges to legitimate regulation of their deadly products. Despite the losses, these companies will undoubtedly continue to look for new ways to counter the restrictions imposed on tobacco.

Moreover, the report added that the order of the publication of "corrective statements" in US media issued by the federal court represents certainly a victory of the truth. The messages stem from a lawsuit brought by the Justice Department in 1999 under the federal law to fight organized crime, and then was left without a verdict, until October 2017, during a decade of appeal and litigation after the 2006 decision.

The data explain in detail the lethal effects of direct and indirect smoking on health, including the following  facts : low-tar and "light" cigarettes are not less harmful than regular cigarettes; smoking and nicotine lead to addiction, and cigarettes were "deliberately" faked in order to "inhale more nicotine."

The report said that cigarette producers also recognize that their products lead to 1,200 deaths in the United States on a daily basis and that obacco use kills more than 7 million a year worldwide.

The report added that we must not lose our determination: there are governments and health organizations like in our two countries that are at war with the tobacco industry and we will continue to fight to defeat the big tobacco companies.

If country leaders and ministers of health and finance are wondering what steps need to be taken to control tobacco products, the confessions of big tobacco companies and the doubts of investors provide the following answer: Maximum action is needed. Governments face a moral and legal necessities to use the strongest possible measures to protect their citizens from tobacco.

In addition, the WHO Convention provides instructions for tobacco control on topics such as tobacco taxation, public awareness, education and collective warnings. These measures have helped save millions of lives over the last decade, not to mention saving hundreds of billions of dollars in health costs.

However, more can be done and we call on governments around the world to implement the WHO Convention on Tobacco Control by speeding up tobacco control policy procedures, implementing measures to combat tobacco control, and applying the Convention at the country level. These conventions and measures together constitute the strongest defense against the tobacco industry.

In addition, governments must support the Protocol to Combat Illicit Trafficking in Tobacco Products, which aims to prevent illicit trafficking, such as smuggling. Although the European Union and 33 other countries have signed the protocol, it needs the support of 7 other governments before it becomes in force.

Finally, in light of the 2018 high-level United Nations meeting on noncommunicable diseases, leaders must be ready to demonstrate their commitment to protect people against heart and lung diseases, cancer and diabetes, by supporting higher standards for tobacco.

After the recent confessions, the major tobacco companies were forced to reveal their true nature. Reluctantly, these companies have all asked us to abandon their products. We believe it is time to accept this proposal because we all know how dangerous tobacco is to human health: it kills millions of people each year and causes a lot of health hazards. We also know that tobacco companies have long handled the damage their products cause to health.

But now, even big tobacco companies have been forced to make the facts public, and after losing several calls after a US federal court ruling in 2006, four companies have been forced to reveal the truth behind years of deceptive marketing by the publication of advertisements containing "corrective statements" in US newspapers and on television. These statements must acknowledge that the US companies "Philip Morris", "Reynolds Tobacco", "Laurelard" and "Altria" were aware of the damage caused by their products, and continued nevertheless to sell them.

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