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U.S. on Sidelines as Nations Launch Negotiations on Treaty to Combat Smuggling, Counterfeiting and Other Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 General News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 Statement of Matthew L.Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: Today in Geneva, Switzerland,more than 150 countries will begin negotiations on an historic internationaltreaty to combat smuggling, counterfeiting and other illicit trade in tobaccoproducts -- a global problem that funds organized crime and terroristorganizations, costs governments billions in revenue and undermines efforts toreduce tobacco use and save lives.

Unfortunately, the United States will not have a seat at the table inthese negotiations despite its significant interests in the outcome. That isbecause the U.S. has abdicated its leadership in the global fight againsttobacco use by failing to ratify the World Health Organization tobacco controltreaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The new treatygoverning tobacco smuggling and counterfeiting will be negotiated as acritical supplement to the existing tobacco control treaty, which has beenratified by more than 150 nations. The U.S. cannot participate as a fullparty in the coming negotiations until it ratifies the existing treaty.

By failing to ratify the treaty and not being a party to thesenegotiations, the U.S. is leaving its own borders more vulnerable and sendinga message to the rest of the world that the wealthiest and most powerfulnation is failing to address a global tobacco epidemic that kills 5.4 millionpeople worldwide each year.

Cigarettes are the world's most widely smuggled -- but otherwise legal --consumer product. Experts have estimated that, in 2006, illicit tradeaccounted for 10.7 percent of global cigarette sales, or about 600 billioncigarettes. The global scope and multifaceted nature of the problem requires acoordinated international response. There are several aspects to the problem:

The existing treaty obligates ratifying countries, which now number morethan 150, to implement effective measures to reduce tobacco use including:higher tobacco taxes; bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship; smoke-free workplaces and public places; and stronger health warnings. Theimportance of these public health measures was reinforced by a WHO report onthe global tobacco control epidemic released just last week.

The upcoming negotiations are critical to global health and globaldevelopment. The number of deaths from tobacco is projected to rise to morethan 8 million by 2030, with more than 70 percent of these deaths indeveloping nations. By effectively implementing proven tobacco controlmeasures, and negotiating and implementing a strong illicit trade treaty toprevent the undermining of these measures, nations can reverse the tobaccoepidemic and save countless lives.

Illicit trade of tobacco products is a transnational problem that willonly be solved with leadership and cooperation from many countries.Unfortunately the U.S. will not be a part of the solution unless it decides totake the tobacco epidemic more seriously. Nations have set a goal ofcompleting the illicit trade protocol no later than 2010.

Based in Washington, D.C., the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leaderin the fight to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences in theUnited States and around the world. As part of the Bloomberg Initiative toReduce Tobacco Use, the Campaign works with governments and non-governmentalorganizations in promoting and implementing public policies to reduce tobaccouse. Visit www.tobaccofreecenter.org.

Visit www.who.int/tobacco to download WHO's Report on the Global TobaccoEpidemic, 2008.-- It is a public health problem that undermines nations' efforts to reduce tobacco use and its growing burden of death, disease and health care costs. Sellers of smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes do not pay taxes on those products and therefore circumvent tax policies designed to increase government reve
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