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On World No Tobacco Day, WHO Calls On National Leaders To Stand Together Against Tobacco Industry 'Attacks'

“On World No Tobacco Day (31 May), WHO is calling on national leaders to be extra vigilant against the increasingly aggressive attacks by the industry which undermine policies that protect people from the harms of tobacco,” a WHO press release reports, noting that nearly six million people die of tobacco-related illnesses each year and tobacco is a leading preventable cause of illness and death worldwide. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, “In recent years, multinational tobacco companies have been shamelessly fuelling a series of legal actions against governments that have been at the forefront of the war against tobacco. … We must now stand together with these governments that have had the courage to do the right thing to protect their citizens,” according to the press release. “More countries are moving to fully meet their obligations under the 2003 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC),” the press release adds (5/30). PANA/Afrique en ligne reports that WHO has released a technical resource paper based on 2008 guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC “to help guide countries on ways to combat tobacco industry interference” (5/30).

In related news, the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog writes that World No Tobacco Day “is more than just a publicity ploy, researchers say.” In a report published in the May/June issue of Journal of Medical Internet Research, “[r]esearchers from the Informatics Program at Children’s Hospital Boston and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health monitored news promoting the stopping of smoking in seven Latin American countries” and “looked at Internet queries for cessation, and found they increased as much as 84 percent on that day, compared with other days,” the blog writes (MacVean, 5/30). 

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.