The WHO needs to target more of its resources at communicable diseases.

Since it was suggested that the wellbeing of nonsmokers could be negatively affected by secondhand tobacco smoke, smoking has been banned in an ever-increasing number of public places, including workplaces, in more and more countries; and, in this way and to a large extent, the perceived problem has been solved while retaining most of the economic benefit the tobacco industry delivers.

Since almost everybody in the world has been under some level of threat of contracting Covid-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, people have been banned from an ever-increasing number of public places, including workplaces, in more and more countries; and, in this way and to some extent, the spread of the virus has been slowed, though those measures have caused, are causing and will cause for an as-yet-unknown time untold social problems and a reduced economic output such that, according to at least one headline, the world is going bust—whatever that means.

It takes about 40 years for a smoker to die of a smoking-related disease. It takes about three weeks to die of Covid-19.

And yet … it’s tobacco that seems to be uppermost in the mind of the World Health Organization (WHO). The Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was due to be held in November, according to a note on the FCTC website dated Feb. 5 and still current well into April. But there was no mention of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Pandemic Prevention and Control, or of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol to Eliminate Trading on Markets Known to Present a Significant Risk of Zoonotic Diseases.

It’s true that, on April 27, the joint meeting was postponed until November 2021, but not, as one might have expected, because the WHO needed to have all hands to the Covid-19 pump, but: “In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic and its impact on the conduct of international global conferences and travel…” But surely, it cannot go ahead even then. I cannot believe that the countries that normally fund this event are going to put up the money for the ninth meeting of the Parties—not at this time. Not when their treasuries are in hock and it is clearly time to focus attention on a few of the health threats that, unlike the threat of tobacco, people cannot deal with themselves: pollution, pandemics and poverty, for instance.

Read full article here.

George Gay – Tobacco Reporter – July 1, 2020.

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