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Campaign Calls on Bush Administration to Work Toward Strong Tobacco Treaty

Poll Shows Strong American Support for Global Tobacco Control Effort
November 21, 2001

Washington, DC — The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids today called on the Bush Administration and its negotiators to work toward a strong Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that puts protection of the public health first as negotiations resume on the proposed international tobacco treaty. The third round of negotiations is scheduled for Nov. 22-28 in Geneva.

The Campaign also released results of a poll showing that 72 percent of American adults support an international effort, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), to 'create a set of rules and regulations that would reduce tobacco use and the harm caused to health by tobacco.'

'During the last negotiations, the U.S. repeatedly made proposals that would weaken critical provisions of the draft treaty and severely undermine its potential to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use around the world,' said Judith P. Wilkenfeld, the Campaign's director of international programs. 'These U.S. proposals would give the tobacco industry the weak and ineffective approach to tobacco regulation that it seeks.

'The coming round of negotiations presents the U.S. with the opportunity to redeem itself and act as a leader in protecting public health around the world, not as a chief defender of the tobacco industry's interests. We urge the Administration and its negotiators to seize this opportunity.

'There is much at stake. The World Bank estimates that between 80,000 and 100,000 children become addicted to cigarettes each day worldwide. Already, tobacco use kills about four million people every year. Based on current trends, the Word Health Organization predicts that tobacco will kill ten million people per year by 2030, with 70 percent of those deaths occurring in developing countries.

'As home to the largest multinational tobacco company on the globe, Philip Morris, the United States has a special responsibility to take a leadership role in addressing this international public health crisis. It is no more acceptable for Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies to addict children and spread disease and death in Asia, Africa, or Latin America than it is for them to do so in the United States. And it is no more acceptable for the U.S. to aid and abet these efforts abroad than at home.'

As documented by the Campaign during the last round of negotiations in May, the U.S. delegation sought, among other things, to delete or weaken provisions that would: ban the use of deceptive terms such as low-tar, light and mild to market tobacco products; prohibit tax-free and duty-free sales of cigarettes; encourage tobacco taxation as a tobacco prevention tool; support strong clean indoor air restrictions; and call for the licensing of tobacco retailers as a means to enforce youth access laws.

The coming week of negotiations is considered critical. Nations are expected to begin selecting actual treaty text from the options established at the previous two rounds. The WHO, which is sponsoring the negotiations, is seeking to complete the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003.

In addition to showing support for the treaty process in general, the poll commissioned by the Campaign also found strong support for specific provisions:

  • 73 percent support stronger restrictions on advertising and promoting tobacco products.
  • 84 percent support requiring strong and visible warnings on tobacco products.
  • 78 percent support tougher laws to stop smuggling of tobacco products between countries.
  • 81 percent support government measures to monitor and regulate the harmful chemicals contained in tobacco products.
  • 82 percent support restrictions on where people can smoke so that the health of non-smokers can be protected.

The telephone survey of 1,004 American adults was conducted Nov. 9-11, 2001, by Market Facts' Tele Nation Survey. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.