The UN’s health chief challenged governments on Monday to accelerate the implementation of a robust framework convention on tobacco control despite the “despicable efforts” of the tobacco industry to subvert it.
World Health Organisation director-general Margaret Chan told the general assembly in New York that fully implementing the UN’s anti-smoking Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, signed by over 170 countries, “would bring the single biggest blow to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory disease.”
Ms Chan called on “heads of state and heads of government to stand and work hard against the despicable efforts of the tobacco industry to subvert this treaty” at the first UN summit on chronic diseases which account for two-thirds of deaths worldwide.
“We must stand firm against their open and extremely aggressive tactics against some governments,” she said.
She said that increasing tobacco taxes and prices were the most effective measures to cut smoking and “they bring significant revenue to your government – and the same is true for alcohol.”
Ms Chan warned that if urgent action was not taken the rising economic cost would be crippling even for rich countries.
In large parts of the developing world these diseases are detected late, require costly hospital care, cost billions of dollars in lost national income and push millions of people below the poverty line every year, she said.
“These diseases break the bank and they are largely preventable through cost-effective measures,” she said.