With U.S. Support, United Nations Acts to Protect Global Health

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

May. 14 2010

U.N. Agrees to Hold Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the support and co-sponsorship of the United States, theUnited Nations General Assembly has taken an important step to protect globalhealth by unanimously agreeing to hold the first-ever summit on the threatposed by non-communicable diseases to low- and middle-income countries.

The summit, involving heads of state, will be held in September 2011. We applaud the U.N. General Assembly fortaking this important action and the United States for providingleadership by co-sponsoring the resolution to hold the summit.

The summit will elevate awareness of non-communicable diseases to the globalstage and focus necessary attention on the diseases that are projected toaccount for more than 75 percent of deaths worldwide by 2030.

Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancerand chronic respiratory disease claim more than 35 million lives each year andcould cost the world in excess of a trillion US dollars annually.

Tobacco use is the most significant risk factor for many of these diseases,underscoring the need for comprehensive tobacco control measures to be part ofany effective strategy to reduce non-communicable diseases.

Tobacco use is so devastating to the human body that it is a risk factor forsix of the eight leading causes of death in the world.

The World Health Organization states that tobacco use already kills 5.4million people a year and the epidemic is worsening, especially in thedeveloping world where more than 80 percent of tobacco-caused deaths will occurin the coming decades. Unless urgent action is taken, one billion peoplewill die worldwide from tobacco use this century.

To reduce non-communicable diseases, nations must more quickly andeffectively implement the cost-effective and scientifically proven measurescalled for by the international tobacco control treaty, the FrameworkConvention on Tobacco Control.

These measures include higher tobacco taxes; large, graphic health warningson tobacco packs; bans on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship;and implementation and enforcement of comprehensive smoke-free laws that applyto all workplaces and public places.

The summit will bring together pubic health experts and government officialsfrom around the world to assess the dangers posed by non-communicable diseasesand to develop a strategic response.

To bring about real change that saves lives and improves global health, itwill be critical that the United States and all nations follow up with concreteaction, funding and political support.

 

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