Low-tar Cigarettes as Deadly as Regular Cigarettes, WHO Says

2008-01-18 15:32 753

BEIJING, Jan. 18 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- The World Health Organization today sought to correct misconceptions concerning so-called "low tar" tobacco products promoted by tobacco companies. The WHO statement followed an article in the 16 January edition of the China Daily newspaper, which reported an announcement by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration of China that the level of tar in Chinese cigarettes had been reduced.

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In its statement, WHO said that although machine measurement of the level of tar in a cigarette may indicate that it has a lower level than another, this measurement does not accurately represent the exposure to deadly substances experienced by a smoker or a person exposed to second-hand smoking. "All tobacco products, including so-called ‘low tar’ cigarettes, are deadly," said Hans Troedsson, WHO China Representative.

In recognition of this fact, he said, misleading labelling of cigarettes as "low tar", "light", "ultra-light" or "mild" is specifically addressed in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), an international treaty which the Government of China has ratified. As a party to the treaty, Dr Troedsson added, China has committed itself to ensuring that effective measures are taken to disallow such misleading messages.

China is the largest producer and consumer of tobacco in the world. As a result, Chinese people suffer the world’s greatest health burden from tobacco-related disorders. Tobacco products kill approximately one million Chinese people every year. "There are simply no safe tobacco products," Dr Troedsson emphasized.

Dr Troedsson said that tax and revenues from the production and sale of tobacco in China far outweigh the relatively small amount that government spends on tobacco control. However, he said, this revenue is counterbalanced by the enormous cost of tobacco in terms of out-of-pocket expenses of people addicted to cigarettes, plus health costs and human suffering.

Dr Troedsson explained that China can expect to benefit economically from better tobacco control measures and full implementation of the WHO FCTC by reducing the huge costs caused by tobacco and smoking. He praised China’s commitment to tobacco control through the WHO FCTC. "It is to be congratulated and encouraged. This path will lead to healthier people and a stronger economy", he said.

Source: World Health Organization