World Conference on Tobacco or Health. Beijing.

Tuesday 19 August 1997

ASH/ Press releases/


102 Clifton Street, London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press releaseAugust 19, 1997 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

World Conference on Tobacco or Health. Beijing, August 24-28, 1997

Landmark conference will lead the international fightback against the tobacco epidemic

Smokers and their health carers have suffered from an extraordinary toll of illness andpremature death, but their ability to seek damages is hampered by the English legalsystem. The deep pockets of tobacco companies and massive costs of litigation mean thatonly the most overwhelmingly strong lung cancer cases have been brought so far. At aconference organised jointly by ASH and the British Medical Association featuring two topAmerican lawyers, delegates heard that new cases could include:

  • ‘Addiction as injury’ and a failure to warn of the addictive properties of nicotine (like the US Castano cases and its successors)
  • Heart disease – recently a successful case in Brazil
  • Passive smoking – recently Airline staff settled in Florida (The Broin case)
  • Health Authorities and private medical insurers suing for recovery of expenditure on smoking-related disease.
  • Criminal proceedings against tobacco company executives
  • Developing world claims heard in the UK

There is a new mood in the anti-tobacco world and the gathering in China will herald amajor intensification of the fight against the health problems of tobacco world-wide. Asthe tobacco industry is increasingly squeezed in the industrialised world, the companiesare aggressively chasing markets in the developing world and Eastern Europe.

“Following the US deal, the mood has changed – everyone is saying that if tobaccois guilty in the States, then it’s guilty everywhere. Every country is looking atwhere it stands on tobacco and health. At this conference we hope to find the common willto confront tobacco companies where they are really staking their future – in developingcountries and Eastern Europe” said Clive Bates, Director of ASH in London.

“It is good to be attending the conference now that Britain has taken a hard lineposition on tobacco control. When the home of BAT, Imperial Tobacco, and Gallaher getstough on tobacco, it sends a very positive signal to Britain’s friends in theCommonwealth and wider international community” said Bates.

ASH calls for international convention on tobacco and health

The restrictions in the US settlement do not extend to the activities of the same UStobacco companies operating abroad. At the conference ASH representatives will argue foran international convention on tobacco and health – under the auspices of the World HealthOrganization building on existing initiatives. [1] The convention would include as aminimum:

  • Broad objectives related to tobacco consumption;
  • Tobacco control protocol detailing measures to be implemented by the parties;
  • Reporting requirements and information exchange;
  • Financial mechanism to fund institution strengthening, crop substitution, implementation and monitoring in developing countries and Eastern Europe.

The tobacco control protocol would include as a minimum:

  • Minimum restrictions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship by tobacco companies;
  • Minimum health warnings and other information on the pack;
  • Maximum tar and nicotine content of cigarettes;
  • Co-operation against smuggling.

ASH Director Clive Bates, said: “It’s now time for action not words. Jointaction worldwide is essential if we are to reduce the horrendous toll of tobacco-induceddeath and disease which is now as common in many developing countries as in theWest.”

continues …/2




Notes to editors:

[1] The call for an international convention follows a resolution passed by the 49thWorld Health Assembly of the WHO which urged member states to implement comprehensivetobacco control strategies. The resolution, which was passed on 25 May 1996, requested theDirector-General of the WHO:

(1) to initiate the development of a framework convention

(2) to include as part of this framework convention a strategy to encourage MemberStates to move progressively towards the adoption of comprehensive tobacco controlpolicies and also to deal with aspects of tobacco control that transcend nationalboundaries.

Document WHA49.17

Forty-ninth World Health Assembly, 25/5/96



At the conference press office – tel. 00 8610 6424 8985; fax 00 8610 6426 0978

Our hotel: Xiyuan Hotel – 008610 68313388

Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Amanda Sandford, Communications Director (020) 7739 5902

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