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Tobacco Forces Still Strong

This is the VOA Special English Health Report, from | The Australian High Court ruled in August to support a law barring tobacco companies from putting their advertising logos on cigarette packages. The European Union is considering a similar ban. But a recent international study showed that some countries do little to control tobacco use. It found that the tobacco industry still has strong influence around the world.Researchers examined information about 3 billion tobacco users worldwide. They looked closely at tobacco use in 14 low and middle-income countries. They compared this information with tobacco use in two developed countries: the United States and Britain. Gary Giovino is with the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Professions in New York State. He was the lead researcher in the study.He says, "Tobacco contributes an enormous burden to the health care system in developed countries." He says that will become the case in low and middle-income countries in the near future. In India, he said, it already has. The study found China has 300 million tobacco users. That is more than any other country. India was second, with almost 275 million tobacco users. Dr. Giovino says the researchers found powerful pro-tobacco forces were active even in elementary schools."The China National Tobacco Company," he says, "has supported elementary schools in China -- dozens and dozens of them. And they use their support to promote propaganda about tobacco use."Dr. Giovino says this is the same as the government telling children to use tobacco to be successful. But, he notes tobacco is, in fact, addictive and shortens lives.The study showed that governments and social traditions in many countries are open to influence from pro-tobacco forces. So the Australian court decision is considered important to those fighting to control tobacco use. Jonathan Lieberman directs the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer in Australia.He says the study shows everybody that the only way to deal with tobacco industry claims or legal threats is in court. Jonathan Lieberman said the decision was fantastic for public health in Australia and around the world. The study also found that, unless urgent action is taken, about a billion people will die early in this century as a result of tobacco use. On average, each of them will lose 15 years of life.For VOA Special English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 22Aug2012)
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