Doctors Call for Strong Anti-Tobacco Treaty
GENEVA (Reuters) - Medical associations representing 10 million doctors in 117 countries urged governments Monday to agree on a strong international treaty to curb tobacco use.
The World Medical Association and other groups meeting in Geneva were to present the so-called "Doctors' Manifesto for Global Tobacco Control" to Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of the World Health Organization (news - web sites) (WHO).
The WHO, a United Nations (news - web sites) agency, is hosting two weeks of talks on a proposed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The first international public health treaty, the accord is due to be agreed by the WHO's 192 member countries by May 2003.
"Physicians see on a daily basis the life-shattering effects of tobacco use for those who smoke and those who inhale the smoke of others," Dr. Delon Human, secretary-general of the World Medical Association, said in a statement.
"Although physicians can play a very important role in preventative and curative care, we must stand together in demanding effective regulation and legislation by governments, to prevent this epidemic," he added.
The statement by doctors, also being issued by the British Medical Association later Monday, called on governments to include measures such as placing a "clear, informative health warning on every packet of tobacco" and ending "misleading claims" that some cigarettes are safer than others.
Other demands are for the 2003 agreement to bar tobacco advertising and to protect non-smokers from smoke, the statement said.
The WHO has revised its estimates of annual deaths caused by smoking-related diseases to 4.9 million people, from a previous estimate 4.2 million, in part because of better research into cardiovascular disease in developing countries, including China and India.