Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tobacco Companies Are Fighting Efforts by Low Income Nations to Reduce Smoking

The Tobacco Industry – Why Should Your Health and Your Life Stand in the Way of Our Profits?

During the holiday season there is all that stuff about loving and caring for one’s fellow man and woman, but apparently the tobacco industry and its leaders are just flat out immune to such ideas.  Is smoking harmful?  Well there is this.

More than five million people die annually of smoking-related causes, more than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, according to the World Health Organization.

And even if those numbers are exaggerated by a 20-30% it is still millions of preventable deaths.  And what is the tobacco industry doing about smoking in the poorer nations?

Conor Ashleigh for The New York Times
A cigarette display in Australia, where the tobacco industry lost a case last year. Philip Morris International has filed suit under an investment treaty.

Alarmed about rising smoking rates among young women, Namibia, in southern Africa, passed a tobacco control law in 2010 but quickly found itself bombarded with stern warnings from the tobacco industry that the new statute violated the country’s obligations under trade treaties.

“We have bundles and bundles of letters from them,” said Namibia’s health minister, Dr. Richard Kamwi.

Three years later, the government, fearful of a punishingly expensive legal battle, has yet to carry out a single major provision of the law, like limiting advertising or placing large health warnings on cigarette packaging.

And yes, this is apparently a concerted, coordinated effort on the part of tobacco companies.

Tobacco companies are objecting to laws in both developed and developing nations. Industry officials say they respect countries’ efforts to protect public health, but face difficulties promoting their brands as more countries ban cigarette ads. Often, the only space left is the packaging, and even that is shrinking, with some countries requiring that packages be plastered with shocking pictures of people with cancer; in Australia, brand names are reduced to uniform block letters on drab olive backgrounds.

“Removing our trademarks removes our assurance to customers of the origin and quality of our lawfully available products, meaning they and their characteristics become indistinguishable from those of our competitors,” said Gareth Cooper, group head of regulation at British American Tobacco.

As for the tobacco company executives themselves, well one can easily imagine them spending Christmas Eve telling their little boys and girls how the presents they are getting were paid for by making millions of men and woman seriously ill and by causing millions of deaths.  Why would they say such things?  Well apparently they not only don’t care, they don’t see anything wrong with their practices and are probably pretty proud of what they do.

The following though did not happen.

Tobacco Companies Come Out in Favor
Of Increasing Incidence of Malaria in
Developing Nations

Say It Will Improve Health

Washington (UPS)  A group of tobacco companies said today that they favor an increase in the number of cases of malaria in sub tropical and tropical nations.  “Malaria has been much maligned”  the group said, “and the positive aspects of the disease have been underreported.  For example, people who have malaria do not have a problem with obesity.  In fact, we think malaria can be a leading tool in the battle against obesity in developed nations”.

The group went on to add that their support for increasing the incidence of malaria was in no way connected to the purchase by several tobacco companies of the leading manufacturer of malaria drugs.

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