WHO chief wants to drive tobacco companies "out of business"

We regularly hear complaints from progressives about the failure of the United States to sign on to various binding, international treaties. Conservatives are understandably cautious about such arrangements, as the best interests of the United States are rarely the chief concern of these schemes, unless it’s to give us less money to worry about as they drain our federal coffers to help pay for them. One of the chief culprits who are regularly cooking up ways to save the people of the world from themselves is the World Health Organization. They’ve kept themselves busy lately trying to figure out ways to eliminate tobacco from the face of the planet, and during a recent meeting, their boss engaged in some refreshingly honest “Real Talk” when she flatly stated that she wants to drive the tobacco companies out of existence.

World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan urged global action Wednesday to drive tobacco companies “out of business” and hailed progress in tackling smoking in many countries.

Speaking at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, she welcomed steps taken by several countries, led by Australia, to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.

The WHO chief called for similar action by other nations.

Tobacco companies “use all sorts of tactics including funding political parties, individual politicians to work for them… There is nothing they would not exploit to undermine the governments’ resolve and determination to protect their own people,” Chan told reporters.

“It’s going to be a tough fight… (but) we should not give up until we make sure that the tobacco industry goes out of business,” she said.

Well, credit where credit is due, the woman is being refreshingly blunt and honest. And she’s clearly not “going rogue” and expressing a sentiment which isn’t widespread in the organization. The article also quotes Edouard Tursan d’Espaignet, holder of the somewhat ambiguous title of coordinator of comprehensive information systems for tobacco control. His feelings were clearly in step with Ms. Chan when he said, “That’s why we’re here to defy and eradicate it.”

What we’re seeing yet again is another reason for the United States not to be signing on to any of these international treaties intended to modify the behavior of the world population. Smoking is already on the decline, and the introduction of the new vapor based e-cigarettes is helping even more people kick the habit. The gradual nature of the decline in usage is forcing companies in this industry to shift to new products and adjust their business model to a new reality. And it is precisely the gradual nature of this shift which is preventing a disastrous hit to the American economy. Suddenly imposing a mandate to kill off the tobacco industry would result in massive layoffs in their own ranks and a scramble for farmers to either come up with new, overseas markets or just shut down. (We’re talking about nearly 50K jobs just at tobacco factories alone.)

None of this is of concern to the WHO, of course. And if they send a shock wave through the American economy in the name of striking a blow for progress, so be it. We remain far better off dealing with such things at our own pace and without the interference of these global nanny state overseers.

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