Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Professor Lawrence O. Gostin has an interesting article in the most recent issue of JAMA discussing the global spread of tobacco products and how best to regulate their use to protect the poorest from the harms of smoking. He argues:
With stricter regulation and an increasing anti-tobacco culture, smoking rates in North America and Western Europe have plummeted. Tobacco executives have aggressively sought new markets in developing countries. The industry has been astonishingly successful as smoking worldwide is expected to massively increase, along with industry profits. The forces of globalization—unparalleled communication, transportation, and commerce—propel this trend.18 . . . .
The industry's success in exploiting poor people will have enduring, harsh health and economic consequences in low- and middle-income countries. However, civil society is fighting back through global regulatory strategies and new global initiatives by Michael Bloomberg and the Gates Foundation to prevent 100 million deaths from tobacco by 2020.2 The imperatives of science, ethics, and human rights oblige society to reduce the burden of smoking, particularly among the disadvantaged. Tobacco marketing and commerce, with all their destructive force, do not deserve sociolegal protections, such as freedom of trade and speech.