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States Not Doing Enough To Prevent Smoking Deaths

Countries not taking all necessary measures to prevent smoking deaths - UN

7 February 2008 - No country has carried out all of the anti-smoking measures necessary to forestall illness, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said in a new report released today, suggesting a half dozen plans of attack to avert tens of millions of premature deaths in the coming decades.

"While efforts to combat tobacco are gaining momentum, virtually every country needs to do more," said Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.

The agency found that only 5 per cent of the world's population reside in countries fully protecting residents with any one of the crucial measures to reduce smoking rates.

The report noted that governments collect 500 times more money in tobacco taxes annually than they spend on anti-tobacco initiatives.

In nearly all countries, WHO said that tobacco taxes could be raised, the most effective strategy in combating tobacco, and the additional funds can be used to kick-start new strategies called MPOWER.

"These strategies are within the reach of every country, rich or poor and, when combined as a package, they offer us the best chance of reversing this growing epidemic," Dr. Chan said.

MPOWER urges nations to: "Monitor" tobacco use and prevention policies; "Protect" people from tobacco smoke; "Offer" help to quite tobacco use; "Warn" about the dangers of tobacco; "Enforce" bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and "Raise" taxes on tobacco.

"This package will create an enabling environment to help current tobacco users quit, protect people from second-hand smoke and prevent young people from taking up the habit," said Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative.

Today's report also highlighted the epidemic's impact on the developing world, where, by 2030, 80 per cent of the eight million tobacco-related deaths yearly are expected to occur.

Currently, lower-income countries receive 9,000 times the amount of money from tobacco taxes than they spend on tobacco control.

The study, partly funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, also found that 40 per cent of countries still allow smoking in hospitals and schools, and services to treat dependence on tobacco are only fully available in nine countries, or 5 per cent of the global population.

In August 2006, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was contributing $125 million over two years to a worldwide anti-smoking initiative, a donation which is many times larger than any prior donation for global tobacco control.

ENDS

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