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Global conference: Make tobacco firms liable for smoking harm

A global conference on tobacco control has pledged to hold the tobacco industry legally liable for health consequences of smoking and protect public health policies from the influence of tobacco companies.

Representatives from around 180 countries participating in the World Health Organization’s global tobacco control treaty negotiations on Saturday adopted a declaration in which they also vowed to prohibit or regulate the sale of e-cigarettes.

The six-day conference on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, or FCTC, concluded with participating countries agreeing to promote alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers that would ensure a better future for them.

Public health activists say smoking-related deaths are still rising worldwide, with 80 percent of them expected to occur in developing countries by 2030. The WHO says that without strong control measures, tobacco will kill about 1 billion people in the 21st century.

The more than 1,500 delegates expressed their concern about persistent attempts by the tobacco industry to infiltrate the meetings in order to influence the working and the outcomes of the conference.

The declaration cautioned governments against efforts by big tobacco companies to dilute health policies, subvert measures to restrict tobacco sales and undermine the implementation of the FCTC.

“The long hours of debate and planning has produced a strong road map for global tobacco control for the future,” Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of the convention secretariat, told reporters.

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