American Heart Association Calls for Stronger International Tobacco Control Restrictions
WASHINGTON, March 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Two American Heart
Association officials, Diane Canova, vice president for advocacy
and Richard Hamburg, director of government relations today urged
support for an international effort to enact stronger restr
The Association's officials were among other public health
organizations, medical professionals, tobacco industry officials
and interested individuals issuing positions today on the Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a proposed international
treaty intended to address the global problem of tobacco use, at a
day-long public meeting held at the Ronald Reagan International
"As the world's leading exporter of tobacco products, the United
States has a moral responsibility to address the adverse impact of
its products on global public health," Canova said. "As a part of
any effort to address tobacco use on a global front, the United
States should act as a world leader in promoting public health. If
any measure to confront domestic tobacco use is passed, it must
also tackle the health problems caused by the use of American
tobacco products abroad."
She added that tobacco products account for three million deaths
worldwide each year, and by 2025, that number is expected to rise
to 10 million, with more than 70 percent of tobacco-related deaths
occurring in developing nations.
Hamburg reiterated her sentiment and added that a "do no harm"
principle should govern U.S. tobacco policy.
"Implementing this principle in U.S. foreign policy, and
particularly in trade policy, has proven much more difficult than
implementing it domestically," he explained. "The U.S. government
has a long history of serving as a advocate for U.S. economic
interests abroad. Advocacy efforts include promoting U.S. products
and companies, objecting when other countries threaten to impose
regulations opposed by U.S. companies, and threatening other
countries with trade sanctions for discriminating against U.S.
Canova also said that any international effort should only
strengthen already existing regulations and restrictions in various
"Nothing in the Framework Convention or related protocols should
reduce, relax or in any other way diminish existing tobacco control
initiatives, regulations, laws, or practices of any signatory," she
explained. "Nothing in the Convention or its protocols should
prevent or discourage a party from taking stronger action than
required by the Convention or its protocols."
Canova added: "Unfortunately, the influence of the tobacco
industry is broad in scope. Historically, U.S. government agencies
and Members of Congress have assisted U.S. companies in their
efforts to expand tobacco advertising, promotion and exports around
The American Heart Association is hopeful that its comments will
influence the U.S. delegation to support the strongest possible
treaty and protocols.
Last May, the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the
World Health Organization adopted a measure calling for talks on an
international tobacco control treaty. Since then, the U.S. has
joined other nations in support of these talks. In October, the
FCTC working group held its first meeting in Geneva and plans to
meet later this month for further discussions. The treaty text,
which an intergovernmental negotiating body will negotiate for the
next three years, is targeted for a May 2003 date by the Assembly.