I wonder how come I still saw smoke coming outta those folks' mouths in that news clip within the article. If it has no tobacco, how can it still produce smoke?
Four years ago, U.S. President George W. Bush signed the tobacco treaty, but he has yet to submit it to the Senate for ratification. In 2005, now-President- elect Barack Obama, along with 10 other U.S. senators, called on President Bush to send the treaty to the Senate for consideration. At that time Obama wrote, "The FCTC [Framework Convention on Tobacco Control] is a crucially important step for public health both globally and here at home. The treaty provides the tools needed to combat the damage inflicted by tobacco....The U.S. must seize this opportunity to show leadership in combating the global tobacco epidemic."
•"[T]obacco is the only legally available consumer product which kills people when it is used entirely as intended," according to the Oxford Medical Companion. It is the greatest preventable cause of death and disease in the world, claiming over 5 million lives every year, adds Corporate Accountability International, a corporate abuse watchdog group.
•The main forces driving the global consumption of tobacco are Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, and Japan Tobacco. The combined revenue of these transnational corporations exceeds the combined GDP of El Salvador, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Jordan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. Each company is also known for marketing their products to children and using "their political influence to weaken, delay and defeat tobacco control legislation around the world," states Corporate Accountability.
COUNTRIES MEET TO LIMIT BIG TOBACCO'S INFLUENCE
INDUSTRY INTERFERENCE SEEN AS #1 OBSTACLE TO HEALTH TREATY'S ENFORCEMENT
From: Corporate Accountability International
November 17, 2008
DURBAN-Representati ves of 160 ratifying countries are meeting this week to negotiate guidelines for a provision in the global tobacco treaty that may determine whether millions get the health protections they are now guaranteed under the treaty.
The negotiations center on the implementation of Article 5.3, which protects the treaty and related public health policies from tobacco industry interference.
At stake this week is how narrowly or broadly these protections are defined. If defined broadly, ratifying countries will recognize the tobacco industry's fundamental conflict with public health, and reject collaboration with tobacco giants like Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT). If defined narrowly, Big Tobacco could continue to gain influence with governments, and demand a seat at the table when public health policies are being developed.
"Industry interference is the number one obstacle to the implementation and enforcement of the global tobacco treaty," said Kathy Mulvey, international policy director of Corporate Accountability International. "Article 5.3 is the lynchpin of the treaty, determining whether or not countries will be able to reverse this preventable epidemic without Big Tobacco standing in their way."
The global tobacco treaty, formally called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), took effect in 2005 and now protects more than 85 percent of the world's population. But efforts to implement the treaty are being systematically stymied by tobacco transnationals, reinforcing the importance of this week's third Conference of the Parties (COP) in Durban.
In Zambia, for example, BAT is developing a cozy relationship with the Minister of Local Government and Housing, who is responsible for enforcing a new ban on smoking in public places. The tobacco industry is trying a similar strategy in Kenya, courting the Minster of Local Government in an attempt to roll back protections against exposure to tobacco smoke.
In Colombia, another country that has recently ratified the global tobacco treaty, PMI and BAT are lobbying hard to preempt a new Health Ministry resolution on smokefree environments. PMI bought Colombia's largest tobacco corporation in 2005 shortly after a report found that seven was the average age people were beginning to smoke in the country's second largest city.
In the lead-up the resolution's taking effect, BAT launched a so-called "youth smoking prevention" campaign as activists were organizing a series of events to expose and challenge tobacco industry interference in public health policymaking.
And these are but a snapshot of tobacco industry interference globally.
"If we don't lay out clear terms now about the tobacco industry's fundamental conflict of interest when it comes to health policy making, it may cost us everything we have achieved through this treaty in turn," said Akinbode Oluwafemi of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth-Nigeria, a member of the Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT). "We are dealing with an industry bent on protecting its profit interest at all human expense - an industry that has written the book on policy manipulation and interference. "
Corporate Accountability International, a non-governmental organization with observer status at the COP, and its allies in NATT believe that the following provisions of the draft Article 5.3 guidelines would help prevent abuses such as those highlighted in Zambia, Kenya and Colombia:
• Prohibiting government partnership or collaboration with the tobacco industry.
• Protecting against conflicts of interest for those involved in setting and implementing tobacco control policies.
Corporate Accountability and NATT are calling for the draft Article 5.3 guidelines to be strengthened, in order to:
• Avoid government interaction with the tobacco industry, and set strict rules of engagement for any meetings determined to be necessary.
• Ensure transparency around government interaction with the tobacco industry and around tobacco industry activities and operations.
• Emphasize the tobacco industry's fundamental conflict with public health.
Since negotiations on the global tobacco treaty began in 1999, Big Tobacco has used its political and economic influence in an attempt to undermine, delay and water down public health measures. Japan Tobacco, for example, is 50 percent owned by the Japanese government. The Japanese Ministry of Finance is heavily represented at treaty meetings, and Japan has often played an obstructionist role.
"We are optimistic that Parties will keep the interests of our children's health closer to their heart than those of tobacco transnationals, " said Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) Spokesperson Muyunda Ililonga, also of the Zambia Consumers Association. "But we know from experience that some will act from the pocket when the circumstance demands they act from the heart."
For background on tobacco industry interference in the global tobacco treaty download the 3rd edition of the Global Tobacco Treaty Action Guide, available in English, French and Spanish, visit: www.StopCorporateAb use.org.
The Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) includes more than 100 NGOs from over 50 countries working for a strong, enforceable Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Corporate Accountability International, formerly Infact, is a membership organization that protects people by waging and winning campaigns challenging irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions around the world. For 30 years, we've forced corporations- like Nestlé, General Electric and Philip Morris/Altria- to stop abusive actions. Corporate Accountability International, an NGO in Official Relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), played a key role in development of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Are public parks and beaches going to be the next places to go smoke free?
Lake County health officials and a group of local teens are urging local park districts and towns in the county to consider banning smoking in outdoor parks, playgrounds, beaches and other outdoor recreational facilities.
The Smoke Free Illinois Act, which took effect on Jan. 1, banned smoking in nearly all indoor public places, including bars, restaurants, casinos and workplaces.
But some park districts and towns have gone even further to extend bans to parks and other outdoor public places. Buffalo Grove Park District prohibits smoking in all of its outdoor park and recreational facilities.
Other villages including Deerfield, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Libertyville, Lindenhurst and Hawthorn Woods also have smoke-free ordinances in public parks. Highland Park, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff also prohibit smoking on beaches.
Local health officials hope that other park districts or towns will follow suit.
"Second-hand smoke is bad, whether it's inside or outside," said Barbara de Nekker, community health specialist for the health department's Tobacco Free Lake County program.
Kris Andersen, coordinator of the Tobacco Free Lake County program, said children congregate in public parks and playgrounds and they can be hurt by the effects of second-hand smoke.
Also, she said cigarette butts often are not properly disposed of and become a major source of litter in parks and beaches. De Nekker said cigarette butts and tobacco-related trash accounted for 44 percent of the debris found on Illinois beaches in 2005 according to the International Coastal Cleanup.
"It's a health issue and it's bad for the environment," said Andersen.
In early November, health department officials held a training meeting at the Libertyville Sports Complex for teens interested in working to create tobacco-free parks. Thirteen teens from the Lake County chapter of the Reality Illinois youth group attended the training session including students from Carmel, Vernon Hills, Zion-Benton and Stevenson high schools.
Grishma Pandya, a former Mundelein High School student and former Reality Illinois youth member who now attends Loyola University, said she has talked to the teens about ways to encourage park districts or communities to enact outdoor smoke-free policies or ordinances.
She said students will be picking up cigarette butts in parks, surveying residents about what they think about smoke-free parks, and talking to local park officials about the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Pandya, who worked to promote the county and state indoor smoking ban in 2007, thinks making parks smoke free makes sense. Pandya said the goal is not to infringe on smokers' rights to light up outside their homes or in their cars, but rather to restrict smoking in parks and outdoor public places where others can be exposed to smoke.
"A park is a place for children and the issue is second-hand smoke," she said.
Mike Rylko, executive director of the Buffalo Grove Park District, said the district adopted a policy in July 2005 prohibiting smoking on all park property, including athletic fields, playgrounds, pools and bleacher areas.
Rylko said there has been very good compliance with the ordinance from the public and they've received few negative comments about it, mostly from smoking rights groups outside the town.
"We've had a lot more positive feedback than negative on the whole ordinance," he said.