A claimed ten million doctors worldwide [nice round figure for the media] have united to lobby the planet’s governments to ban tobacco advertising and “misleading” claims made by cigarette manufacturers.
Meeting this week in Geneva, medical associations representing doctors in 117 nations urged world leaders to draw up a tough international treaty to curb tobacco use. The World Medical Association is to present the Doctors' Manifesto for Global Tobacco Control to the director general of the World Health Organisation, Gro Harlem Brundtland.
The manifesto calls for a commitment to the 2003 agreement to ban tobacco advertising and to protect non-smokers from smoke. It also demands a range of new measures including a “clear, informative health warning on every packet of tobacco” and the ending of “misleading claims” that some cigarettes are safer than others.
• Elsewhere on the planet, words were being translated into action. Britain's Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill received an unopposed third reading in the House of Commons on Monday and now needs only the Royal Assent [a traditional rubberstamping, never refused] to become law.
According to health minister Hazel Blears, advertising on billboards, in newspapers and on websites will be banned by the year end, bringing other media into line with UK television which has not carried tobacco ads for many years.
However, certain “global sports”, notably Formula One auto racing – the personal fiefdom of Bernie Ecclestone whose financial generosity to the Labour Party earned him the ear of prime minister’ Blair – will be exempt from the ban until 2006.
Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK) and MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff