Winning Hearts and Lungs

What does the United States have in common with the forward-looking, “culture of life” moral beacons of the world like Cuba, Haiti, Yemen and Burkina Faso?

They all have refused to ratify a treaty they signed in 2004 that would curtail one of the planet’s deadlier scourges – tobacco. The World Health Organization Framework on Tobacco Control was signed by President Bush with a flourish just six months before he was to be returned to office. But since then, he has refused to even submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification.

The treaty may look harsh to the corporations that finance the Republican party, as it would require restrictions on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion; establish new packaging and labeling of tobacco products and establish clean indoor air controls.

As the only consumer product that kills more than half its users, tobacco is on the verge of becoming the leading cause of death worldwide. Apparently American values of democracy and free enterprise are worth the 200 million lives the U.N. says would be saved in the next 45 years.

Hey, those people would have just been anti-American anyway, right?

1 COMMENT

  1. Our political leadership seems perfectly willing to advocate laws telling women not to terminate a pregnancy but doesn’t want to push programs that will reduce fetal harm from maternal smoking and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Not to mention similar harm to children and the rest of us.

    As usual, big money interests trump science in policymaking in the Bush White House.

    Fred Bortz — Science and technology books for young readers (www.fredbortz.com) and Science book reviews (www.scienceshelf.com)

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