WHO chief slams industry for blocking tobacco law

New Delhi, Sep 11 : World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Margaret Chan Wednesday slammed the tobacco industry for "sabotaging" the vote on a strong European law on tobacco.

"Unfortunately, many countries give more importance to tobacco as an issue for trade and commerce than as a severe threat to health," Chan said, while addressing a gathering at the International Conference on Public Health Priorities in the 21st Century here.

The WHO chief said the tobacco industry ruthlessly exploits this appeal to commercial interests. "The most recent example concerns efforts on the part of Philip Morris (tobacco major) to sabotage the vote on a stronger European directive on tobacco," she said.

The law calls for having larger pictorial warnings on the cigarette packets and banning all tobacco products with flavours like menthol, among others.

She said lobbyists have been deployed to delay or block passage of the new directive until the European Council presidency moves to Greece, where the company has opened a huge hub for the production and distribution of cigarettes throughout Europe.

The vote on the stringent tobacco law in Europe has been put off till Oct 8.

Putting off the crucial vote is being seen as a victory to the tobacco industry.

Any further delay could affect the passage of the directive, as the presidency of the European Council passes to Greece January. Greece is opposed to tobacco control.

--IANS (Posted on 11-09-2013)

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