WHO chief accuses ‘big tobacco’ of dirty tricks

MANILA, October 10, 2011 (AFP) – The World Health Organization’s chief on Monday urged governments to unite against “big tobacco”, as she accused the industry of dirty tricks, bullying and immorality in its quest to keep people smoking. This covers an area with a population of 1.6 billion people, including China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and many South Pacific island nations. WHO director-general Margaret Chan accused cashed-up tobacco firms of using lawsuits to try and subvert national laws and international conventions aimed at curbing cigarette sales.

“It is horrific to think that an industry known for its dirty tricks and dirty laundry could be allowed to trump what is clearly in the public’s best interests,” Chan said at a WHO meeting in the Philippine capital on Monday.

Chan cited legal actions by the tobacco industry against anti-smoking measures in Australia and Uruguay, saying these were “scare tactics” intended to frighten other countries from following suit.

“It is hard for any country to bear the financial burden of this kind of litigation, but most especially so for small countries,” she said.

“Big tobacco can afford to