World Health Organization Launches No-Tobacco Day
BANGKOK, Thailand (Reuters) - World No-Tobacco Day on Wednesday was launched in Bangkok with the unveiling of a giant digital ``death clock'' showing that at least eight people die every minute worldwide from smoking.
World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Gro Harlem Brundtland, set off the two meter long and 1.2 meter wide clock which will be on display for the day at a people's park in central Bangkok as a stark reminder of the evils of tobacco.
``About 3.4 million people die from smoking each year and if a plan of action is not taken seriously from this moment, there will be at least 10 million deaths per year by 2030,'' she told a crowd of about 5,000 people at the park.
Banning tobacco advertisements and protecting youths from taking up the smoking habit were crucial in the global fight against smoking, she said. ''Tobacco companies are entering Asia and targeting the youngsters for their new market...it's the world community's duty to do their utmost to protect children from dying prematurely,'' she added.
She cited Thailand as a good example of an Asian country that has fought the tobacco lobby by banning advertisements, raising cigarette prices using taxes and fighting the smuggling of tobacco into the country.
That was the reason why Thailand was chosen as the venue for this year's no-tobacco day campaign, Brundtland said.
``The (tobacco) market is starting to fall in Thailand and some developing areas because of public campaigns, because of education, because of advertising bans and because of their people's awareness of the dangers of tobacco,'' she said.
Official Thai statistics show the number of smokers in the country has dropped to 20.5 percent of the population last year compared with 30.1 percent when the anti-smoking campaign began 10 years ago.