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World Health Officials Consider New Tobacco Control Measures

07.16.2011, VOA Health Report, by .

Delegates from around the world met in Uruguay in November to consider new ways to control tobacco. A World Health Organization treaty called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control took effect five years ago. More than one hundred seventy governments have signed it. The treaty requires a number of efforts — like raising tobacco prices, restricting advertising and banning sales to children. High school students protested against tobacco companies at a trade show in Jakarta. Indonesia has not signed the international treaty. But its Health Ministry proposes to ban all forms of cigarette advertising. An official at the Indonesian Tobacco Alliance says his trade group agrees with banning all activities to promote cigarettes to the young. But he says tobacco companies should be able to market their products to adults, just like any other legal product. Tobacco growers are also concerned about several measures proposed at the meeting in Uruguay. One would ban additives traditionally used with “burley” tobacco. This kind of tobacco is grown extensively in Africa. It is used extensively in American-style cigarettes that are popular worldwide. Antismoking groups say the proposal is aimed against flavorings like chocolate, licorice and sugar. The director of the Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum points out that several American brands still use burley tobacco but without additives.But economists at NKC, a South African research group, say the guidelines would affect the lives of millions of Africans who depend on tobacco farming. The report says nearly four million people in Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe would be most seriously affected. Since June, the United States has banned cigarette companies from using misleading terms like “light,” “mild” and “low tar.” Also in November, federal health officials announced new actions to control tobacco. These include proposals to require larger health warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements. Officials also want to require new “graphic health warnings” within two years. Proposals include a picture of a woman blowing smoke in a baby’s face, and an image of diseased lungs next to healthy lungs. You can find a link to all of the proposed images at For VOA Special English, I’m Alex Villarreal.

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