Tobacco woman smoking a cigarette

On Monday, at a health conference, a top United Nations health official discussed the effect of a new anti-tobacco treaty and the global challenges to cut tobacco use and exposure to smoke.

Speaking at the Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in Seoul, Korea, Executive Director of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, said via, “I can think of no other undertaking that can make such a huge contribution to better health in every corner of the world. And that includes the health of young children and unborn babies.

“This has always been one of the anti-tobacco campaign’s most compelling arguments. Tobacco use is the epidemiological equivalent of a drive-by shooting – it hurts the innocent bystanders, as well as those held captive by an addiction that damages their health,” added Chan.

Annually, tobacco use contributes to five million (12 percent)  of adult deaths for those older than 30 worldwide. This equates to one death every six seconds, according to a March WHO mortality report.

Fortunately, tobacco use among minors appears to be on the decline.

WHO has said that the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a treaty that declared a person’s right to the highest standard of health, is a milestone for public health and gives new legal dimensions for international health cooperation. It represents the inaugural treaty negotiated under the agency, and comes from a response to the global tobacco epidemic.

Through the years, the number of Parties in the Convention has grown from 40 in 2005, and 113 in 2006 at COP’s first session, to the current number of 176. The COP, which is the WHO FCTC governing party, will further review the treaty and try to advance its  implementation at the session; it runs from Monday to Saturday.

Additional remarks from Chan included:

“The tobacco industry behaves like a corrosive substance that can eat through, or seep through, any crack or fissure in the armour of our defenses. Our response must be to seal all these cracks and fissures, one by one, with science and evidence, supported by instruments for applying this knowledge and backed by the rule of law”

This is what you are doing. This is what makes the work of this conference so monumentally important. With the guidelines and recommendations you put forward, and now with the first protocol before you for approval, you are hemming in the enemy, cutting off its options, giving it less space to maneuver.”

The Fifth Session of COP has a variety of items on its agenda, including the adoption of a protocol to get rid of the illicit tobacco products trade.

Meanwhile in an effort to quit tobacco use, one company thinks the answer comes from e-cigarettes. On Monday, the U.S. company announced it is giving away out free electronic cigarette starter kits for its “try before buy” campaign.

The company is promoting the use of e-cigarettes on the platform that they include “little to no” harmful chemicals.