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Swift Policy Action Urged During Tobacco Free Awareness Week

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York) – During Tobacco‐Free Awareness Week, January 25 to 31, 2009, World Lung Foundation urges federal and state policy makers to recognize the disastrous health consequences of tobacco use and to take much overdue action to protect the public.

First, Congress should ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty that obligates governments to take measures that protect citizens from tobacco use. The United States lags behind more than 180 countries in ratifying FCTC despite the fact that more than 400,000 Americans die every year from their own cigarette smoking.

Second, Congress and the new administration should implement the policy interventions articulated in the World Health Organization's MPOWER report. The report provides a roadmap for governments to effectively implement the FCTC and to make such actions sustainable. The six critical interventions outlined in the MPOWER Report are:

  • Monitoring the epidemic and prevention policies
  • Protecting people from secondhand smoke
  • Offering help to quit tobacco use
  • Warning about the dangers of tobacco
  • Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising and promotion
  • Raising taxes and prices.

“For years the United States has shamefully neglected addressing the most preventable health crisis of our time,” said Peter Baldini, Executive Director, World Lung Foundation. “During this year's Tobacco‐Free Awareness Week, we should not have to focus on making it known that tobacco kills. We should focus on the fact that it is possible to become tobacco‐free. The policies are now well documented and so straightforward. It is inexcusable to take no action.”