WHO wants to regulate tobacco like food or drugs: save hundreds of thousands of lives

Tuesday 27 April 1999

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Press release
27th April 1999
Action on Smoking
and Health

WHO wants to regulate tobacco like food or drugs — save hundreds of thousands oflives

The World Health Organisation is proposing thattobacco products should face a regulatory regime as tough as the manufacturers of nicotinepatches.

Commenting on the exceptionally strongstatement from WHO, Clive Bates, Director of ASH said: “We’ve never seen anything like this from WHO before– it signals a new determination to tackle tobacco at the global level — bygoing straight for the heart of the problem, which is the product itself, they couldpotentially save millions of lives.”

ASH has already showed that are many ways inwhich cigarettes could be made safer — for example, there are patented techniques toremove, nitrosamines, carbon monoxide, phenols, and hydrogen cyanide from cigarette smoke.See ASH’s research on patents [1].

“We know that cigarettes can never be made safe, but it is possible to make them alot less dangerous. Regulators have never been willing to tackle tobacco, so the companieshave never been forced to do the things that would make cigarettes less dangerous.”

In the speech in Berlin today Dr. Brundtlandthe Executive Director of WHO told a meeting of pharmaceutical regulators [2] that:

”The tobacco companies will inevitably tell you they are selling a simple agriculturalproduct – chopped up tobacco leaves rolled into a paper tube. This is categoricallyuntrue. Cigarettes are one of the most highly engineered consumer products available. Theproblem is the product itself,”

Dr. Brundtland went on to call for called on internationalfood and drug regulators to bring cigarettes and tobacco industry products under the sameambit of rules that govern the sales and promotion of other nicotine delivery devices. Dr.Brundtland also rounded on so-called ‘low-tar’ cigarettes saying that these hadbeen “shamefully used” by the tobacco industry to “fool smokers” andto use “health concerns as a marketing opportunity”.

[1] The safer cigarette: what the tobacco industry couldhave done, and why it hasn’t done it… press release is at <ahref=”http: www.ash.org.uk=”” press=”” 990303.html”=””>www.ash.org.uk/press/990303.html

[2] Ninth International Conference of Drug RegulatoryAuthorities (ICDRA). The speech and WHO press release are available from ASH at <ahref=”http: www.ash.org.uk=”” papers=”” brundtln.html”=””>www.ash.org.uk/papers/brundtln.html.



Contact Clive Bates, ASH Director (020) 7739 5902

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