|Country cooperation a key weapon in the fight against tobacco|
As the tobacco industry tries new ways to promote its lethal products, sharing successful resistance strategies is one of the best ways to fight back, according to health experts.
"We must use all tools to head off the attacks of the industry," said PAHO Assistant Director Dr. Socorro Gross. The most important of those tools, as illustrated in posters for this year's World No Tobacco Day, is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control FCTC. This first-of-its-kind treaty asks signatories to implement measures that reduce tobacco consumption and exposure. Twenty-two countries in the Americas have signed on to the convention.
Speaking at a panel discussion to mark World No Tobacco Day 2011, Health Canada's Denis Choinere said his country was a "big fan" of the convention. "It has created a momentum where countries are more active and exchange internationally." This sharing of success stories and challenges was also highlighted by Tim McAfee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The convention is "deeply appreciated by all member countries and certainly by the CDC," he said. "We have really received support from our partners in the Americas.
Carlos Gianelli, Ambassador of Uruguay to the United States, outlined his country's tobacco-control history, and urged those with successful experiences to share them with others.
PAHO/WHO Assistant Director Gross linked anti-tobacco work to this year's focus on combating non-communicable diseases, a theme that will be discussed at a high-level meeting during the U.N. General Assembly in September. Tobacco use is responsible for 6 million deaths a year around the world.
Dr Adriana Blanco, PAHO regional advisor on tobacco control, pointed to new hurdles, such as ensuring the tobacco industry does not exploit social media to advertise its products.
The meeting concluded with the presentation of the World No Tobacco Day 2011 awards to three groups - from Chile, Peru and around the world - that have worked to support the development, adoption and implementation of the FCTC.