China ratifies tobacco treaty

The Chinese government has ratified the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, formalising the country's support for the anti-smoking treaty and obligating the Chinese to ban tobacco sponsorship. In fact they already have but the government is currently choosing to ignore the law because it considers hosting a Chinese GP to be more important than the anti-smoking legislation. This bizarre attitude may now have to change.

China is the biggest producer and consumer of tobacco in the world and the ratification is a major step forward for the WHO. The next target is the United States of America which signed the treaty in May 2004 but has done nothing about ratification since then. Pressure is now growing on President George Bush to submit the the treaty to the Senate for ratification. Tobacco campaigners argue that the US has a special obligation to ratify the treaty because it is the home of Philip Morris, the world's largest tobacco company. Big Tobacco is very powerful in the United States but the government's inaction has left the US with the image of being unwilling to help the world's health because of the effect it might have on the profits of big tobacco companies.

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