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Worldwide Public Health Conference Recommends Regulating Additives in Tobacco

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Representatives from over 171 countries have agreed to new guidelines recommending that tobacco companies reveal the ingredients in their products and regulating tobacco additives, BBC reported Nov. 20.

The countries, each of which has signed on to a United Nations tobacco control treaty, assembled in Uruguay at a conference sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The parties feel that from the point of view of public health, there is no justification to use ingredients that increase the attractiveness of tobacco products, that in turn increase the number of new smokers, especially among young people,” said Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesperson for the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Individual nations can use the new guidelines to create legislation, but, no specific timetable is required, Jasarevic said.

A Dutch toxicologist and economist serving as an advisor on the UN treaty, Antoon Opperhuizen, told the Associated Press on Nov. 19 that the guidelines would not name specific additives. “Everything used in food is also used in tobacco,” he said. “It's impossible to have a complete list.”

The agreement is a major setback for the tobacco industry, which lobbied hard against it. The International Tobacco Growers Association said that the new guidelines would damage the livelihoods of 30 million tobacco growers and cost millions of jobs. It delivered a petition to the conference signed by 235,000 tobacco growers from 265 countries. 

Public health officials argued that the measure could save millions of lives by cutting smoking, and that growers could switch to different crops. According to the Associated Press, conference delegates were not able to agree on how to promote switching crops or how to limit black market cigarettes.

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