World Health Organization Is Out To Kill The Tobacco Industry Once And For All
World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan wants tobacco companies to be completely driven out of business.
Last week, Chan delivered a speech at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health, applauding tobacco reform in various countries and further stating that reform is just the first step of the way to eliminating the tobacco industry, AFP reports. According to statistics Chan cited, every six seconds a person dies due to smoking. This totals to 6 million people each year. For the WHO, the goal by 2025 is at minimum a 30 percent global reduction in tobacco consumption.
Part of that reform includes plain packaging laws. The idea behind plain packaging is that forcing manufacturers to use standardized labeling on cigarette packs will discourage consumption. Under this arrangement, manufacturers can only include their brand name on a small portion of the cigarette pack. The rest of the pack is usually covered with health warnings and imagery showing the very graphic consequences of smoking.
Interestingly, some analysts believe that plain packaging will be a positive for the tobacco industry because it prevents new brands from competing, as there is no way for market entrants to distinguish themselves from existing tobacco products.
“Regulation has made it almost impossible to build a new brand,” Simon Raubenheimer, a portfolio manager at Allan Gray Proprietary Ltd., told The Wall Street Journal. “The barriers to entry are massive. That’s probably the biggest positive.”
The U.K. and Ireland just this month passed legislation to prohibit branding on cigarette packs, and more than 10 countries are considering joining on the plain packaging bandwagon, amid concerns from industry groups that the legislation violates intellectual property laws. Chan brushed off criticism as just part and parcel of a strategy in which tobacco companies “use all sorts of tactics including funding political parties, individual politicians to work for them… There is nothing they would not exploit to undermine the governments’ resolve and determination to protect their own people.”
WHO coordinator of comprehensive information systems for tobacco control Edouard Tursan d’Espaignet confirmed that the international health organization has its sights set on killing the tobacco industry.
“We’re here to defy and eradicate it,” d’Espaignet told AFP.
Many groups have objected to the WHO’s aggressive position.
“It is not the role of an international organization to decide what business industries should or should not exist,” Linda Dempsey, vice president of international economic affairs for the National Association of Manufacturers, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
According to Dempsey, trying to outlaw tobacco activities will only create a larger black market for the product. “Given the serious concerns that existing illicit trade is already fueling organized criminal activity, abolishing currently legal business activities that are already heavily regulated will only exacerbate a serious problem,” Dempsey said.
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