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Tobacco use damages not only health but economies, equity-WHO

March 7, 2018

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Speaking ahead of the 17th World Tobacco Conference on: “Tobacco or Health” in Cape Town, South Africa, Dr Ghebreyesus said it was now time for leaders to implement strong policies that would protect their citizens against tobacco-related challenges.

Cape Town. The World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said on March 7 that tobacco consumption is a barrier to development on all fronts.

Speaking ahead of the 17th World Tobacco Conference on: “Tobacco or Health” in Cape Town, South Africa, Dr Ghebreyesus said it was now time for leaders to implement strong policies that would protect their citizens against tobacco-related challenges.

"Tobacco use damages not just health, but also economies, environment, education and equity," he told journalists at a press conference in Cape Town.
"Today is a call to action in Africa and around the world to beat tobacco," he emphasized.

Speakers at today's opening plenary of the tobacco conference warned that new moves by the tobacco industry including funding such campaigns as "Smoke-free world," were cynical attempts by tobacco companies to re-brand themselves as "responsible" and "legitimate" contributors to the public health debate.

The WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control states that the interests of the tobacco industry are fundamentally irreconcilable with the interests of public health, and as such, tobacco industry involvement in public health must be prevented.

According to the Head of the WHO FCTC, Dr Vera Luiza, the rise in tobacco industry interference in public health policy is a reaction to the progress made in tobacco control over the last decade.

"As progress accelerates, globally to protect health and economies from devastation of tobacco use, so the tobacco industry is stepping up efforts to promote and extend its market by all means," warned Dr Luiza.

Some 2000 delegates- researchers, scientists, UN and civil society representatives, healthcare professionals from around 100 countries are attending the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in South Africa.

This year's event is the first in its 50 year history to be held on the African continent.