C. Everett Koop Calls on Delegates to Battle Tobacco Industry
CHICAGO (Reuters Health) - Former US Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop told delegates at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health that it is the tobacco industry--not smoking or smokers--that they should be battling.
C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general of the United States, speaks at the closing ceremonies of the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Chicago.While speaking at the closing session of the weeklong conference held in Chicago, Illinois, Koop drew a parallel to his experience as the lead government spokesman early in the AIDS epidemic.
``I said that we were fighting a disease, and not the people who had it,'' Koop recalled. ``For tobacco use, however, I have to say we are not fighting a disease, not fighting tobacco users, but we are engaged in challenging the multifaceted Big Tobacco organizations who knowingly have spread disease, disability and death throughout the world.''
Koop suggested tobacco control advocates shift away from repetition of the message that tobacco kills. ``How does the public react to the message 'tobacco kills?' Well, users could say, 'I like doing this, and I have to die of something.' Non-users could say, 'well, not my problem,''' Koop remarked.
He suggested focusing on disease and disability, rather than death. Koop also recommended reminding nonsmokers and policymakers that medical treatment and lost productivity due to tobacco-related disease costs the US an estimated $130 billion each year. ``All of these are much more appealing to the listener and likely to generate more action than our message: tobacco kills,'' Koop said.
Koop urged the tobacco control delegates to look beyond their immediate colleagues for help, that the tobacco issue involves much more than health. ``Public health cannot make it without strong allies outside of public health,'' he said.