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22.11.2010 Health

Global community unites against tobacco industry interference

By Bobby Ramakant - CNS
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DECLARATION AT TREATY MEETING AFFIRMS PRIORITY OF PUBLIC HEALTH OVER TRADE

(CNS): As the host country for this week's tobacco control treaty meetings braces for a legal challenge from Philip Morris International (PMI) to its graphic cigarette warning labels, 172 Parties are uniting behind Uruguay in a declaration adopted at this meet. The declaration reaffirms the right of Parties to the treaty, "to give priority to their right to public health” over trade, given the “devastating worldwide health, social, economic, and environmental consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke."

“Today, while one deadly corporation disputes the priority of public health over its profits, the global community has begged to differ – taking a unified stand against industry interference and intimidation,” said Gigi Kellett of Corporate Accountability International.

The declaration, proposed by Uruguay, can immediately assist the country in its case with PMI, not to mention the countless Parties facing similar legal intimidation, industry interference in health policy, and manipulation of the treaty process.

The document:
- reaffirms that health is a fundamental right of every human being;

- affirms the sovereign right of all Parties to protect health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry;

- declares Parties' concern regarding the tobacco industry's current and ongoing efforts to “subvert and undermine government policies on tobacco control;”

- declares the need to exchange information nationally and internationally regarding the tobacco industry's efforts to interfere in the implementation of the treaty;

- encourages non-Parties, such as the United States, to ratify and implement the treaty.

“Uruguay is not alone in its struggle and the legal challenge that spurred this declaration is not the only reason for its being proposed,” said Yul Francisco Dorado, Latin America Director for Corporate Accountability International. “Just this week, the industry has used front groups to bully delegates and mislead the media. It has sent dozens of representatives to walk the halls of a treaty meeting it is prohibited from participating in. And worse, it has sent delegates to participate directly under the auspices of government agencies. This declaration says enough is enough, we cannot get down to the business of saving lives unless Big Tobacco is directly challenged.”

Source: Citizen News Service (CNS) www.citizen-news.org

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