Tougher tobacco rules urged at global anti-smoking talks

BANGKOK, July 2, 2007 (AFP) – Health advocates called Monday for tougher regulations on tobacco, as officials from 145 countries met in Bangkok to discuss ways of boosting global efforts to stop smoking. The week-long meeting organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) aims to find ways of harmonising national laws to tighten tobacco controls, particularly limits on advertising and protection from second-hand smoke.

Hatai Chitanondh, the president of Thailand Health Promotion Institute, told reporters that although the kingdom bans tobacco companies from sponsoring sporting events, international competitions are not affected.

“Formula One, for example, has a big impact as they have three to four million people in Asia watching the F1 every year,” Hatai told a press conference held as the talks got underway.

“The Formula One is sponsored by several tobacco companies, and the racing is broadcast to Thailand from other countries,” he said.

“We need cooperation from other countries to put tough controls on this, on top of our attempts on the national level,” he added.

Douglas Bettcher, the head of the WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said free trade deals were also bringing down t