Today, the United States joins with the World Health Organization (WHO) in observing World No Tobacco Day 2010. Tobacco use is the single leading preventable cause of death in the world and kills up to half of those who use it. Containing this epidemic is one of the most important public health priorities of our time. This year, World No Tobacco Day is dedicated to drawing particular attention to the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls. A new report issued on May 27th
by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examines gender differences in tobacco use and awareness of tobacco marketing. Particularly troubling is new global data from Bangladesh, Thailand, and Uruguay, indicating greater exposure to cigarette marketing among young women (ages 15 to 24) than older women (over 24 years old).
Here in the United States, in 2009, Congress passed landmark new legislation aimed at reducing the use of tobacco, particularly among our children and adolescents. President Obama signed the bill into law on June 22, 2009. With this law, Congress granted new powers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set product standards, including standards regarding cigarette additives, if it is to the benefit of public health. Furthermore, the law requires that in the near future, health warnings occupy 50 percent of the front and back surfaces of cigarette packs, ensuring that Americans are informed about the risks of tobacco use.
Internationally, the United States engages with other countries and the WHO to study and monitor tobacco use and prevent its harmful effects. U.S. embassies are encouraged actively to assist and promote tobacco control efforts in their host countries. The U.S. CDC is the lead U.S. Government agency involved in an international tobacco monitoring effort called the Global Tobacco Surveillance System. The CDC findings being released for the occasion of World No Tobacco Day remind us once again that tobacco marketing plays a significant role in the initiation and maintenance of tobacco use.
On this day, we join our world partners to reiterate the commitment of the United States to combating the harmful effects of tobacco use, both at home and abroad.