Jan. 19 2001
Washington, DC — President Clinton's executive order prohibiting the federal government from promoting the sale or export of manufactured tobacco products sets a standard for the incoming Bush administration to follow and advance. It is imperative that the United States continues to take the lead in promoting policies that discourage the worldwide use of tobacco, which currently addicts millions of children and ravages populations globally with the scourge of tobacco-caused disease.
The magnitude of the global tobacco epidemic demands the same kind of leadership from the United States that our government has provided domestically. As smoking rates have declined in the U.S. and other Western nations, they have exploded in the rest of the world as the tobacco companies have sought new markets and new customers for their deadly products. Already, tobacco use kills about four million people worldwide every year. Based on current trends, the World Health Organization predicts that tobacco will kill ten million people per year by 2030, with 70 percent of those deaths occurring in developing countries. In fact, more people worldwide are expected to die from tobacco-related illness over the next 30 years than from AIDS, automobile accidents, maternal mortality, homicide and suicide combined.
The leadership of the world's most powerful nation is critical to addressing this global crisis. The stakes are enormous. If the incoming administration fails to continue and build on the policies outlined in President Clinton's executive order, it will undermine efforts to contain the tobacco epidemic in the rest of the world and could even impede domestic progress. There is already too much devastation to children and families around the world from tobacco addiction and disease. The incoming administration has a responsibility to see to it that the United States does everything possible to keep tobacco addiction from spreading any further.