Home NEWS Health In Poor Countries, Antismoking Activists Face Threats and Violence

In Poor Countries, Antismoking Activists Face Threats and Violence

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The foundation’s president, Dr. Derek Yach, a former W.H.O. official who helped write the world’s tobacco control treaty, immediately fired off a letter of protest arguing that the foundation was an independent nonprofit that “fully insulated itself from the influence of the tobacco industry.”

Even before the Cape Town conference opened, its leaders announced that Dr. Yach, a South African, would be barred from attending.

Eight years, ago, Mr. Bloomberg started a $2 million global antismoking program in partnership with the W.H.O. Shortly afterward, he and Mr. Gates announced that they would jointly spend $500 million on the cause — 25 times as much as was spent at the time.

The campaign, nicknamed Mpower, urges governments to raise tobacco taxes, prohibit smoking in public, outlaw cigarette giveaways and advertising aimed at children, and offer nicotine patches and other help to smokers trying to quit.

Mr. Bloomberg said the Mpower campaign had already cut smoking rates in some countries so much that 35 million early deaths will be prevented.

The tobacco industry has filed numerous lawsuits in poor countries trying to thwart antismoking measures.

At the conference, Dr. Loida Alzona, director of health, public safety and environmental protection at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority in the Philippines, described how her agency was defeated in court when it tried to enforce regulations outlawing smoking on transit platforms and streets.

Two men fined for smoking sued, demanding an injunction preventing her agency from penalizing anyone. They persisted even after charges against them were dropped, Dr. Alzona said, repeatedly appearing with high-priced lawyers even though they were low-paid workers.

One said later in a television interview that he was among about 50 men recruited by tobacco industry lawyers to try to be arrested in order to provoke a test case, Dr. Alzona said.

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