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Leading Health, Women’s and Girls’ Organizations Issue Urgent Appeal for Government Action on Global Tobacco Epidemic

July 16, 1998

Washington, DC - Leading U.S. and international tobacco control experts and members of Congress active in tobacco control issues released an urgent appeal to elected U.S. officials at a news briefing on Capitol Hill today, calling on them to help protect the world’s women and girls from American tobacco companies’ aggressive international marketing tactics. “Without strong government and private sector intervention, the number of women smokers will nearly triple from 187 million to more than 530 million over the next generation -- 80 percent of whom will live in the developing world,” said Dr. Judith Mackay, senior advisor to incoming World Health Organization Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland. “Women, Girls, and Tobacco: An Appeal for Global Action” (attached) was released at the news briefing. It has been endorsed by more than 30 women’s, girls’ and public health groups. The appeal calls on Congress to enact legislation that will: ? end U.S. government support for tobacco abroad; ? adequately fund global tobacco control efforts; ? establish a code of conduct for labeling and advertising overseas; ? curb international tobacco smuggling; and ? fund international tobacco control through a fee imposed on the tobacco industry. “Tobacco use is one of the greatest health threats facing women and girls around the globe today,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). “As the world’s leading exporter of tobacco products, the United States has a moral responsibility to support programs and policies to prevent an increase in smoking among women, especially in developing countries.” Members of Congress and tobacco control experts presenting at the news briefing today included: Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX); Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ); Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL); Dr. Judith Mackay, Senior Advisor, World Health Organization; Dr. Sharon Lenhart, President, American Medical Women’s Association; Cass Wheeler, CEO, American Heart Association; Linda Ford, President, American Lung Association; Bill Novelli, President, CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS; Jeanette Noltenius, Executive Director Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco; George Dessart, former Chairman, American Cancer Society; and Dr. Jane Hull Harvey, Vice Chair, Interreligious Coalition on Smoking or Health. “Developing countries often lack knowledge of tobacco’s devastating impact and have limited resources to counter the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing tactics, in particular those aimed at women and girls,” said Mackay. “U.S. companies are aggressively targeting women and girls worldwide with seductive advertising that blatantly depicts images of independence, power and slimness.”