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World Health Organization Says Big Tobacco Working Against Anti-Smoking EffortsAired August 2, 2000 - 2:08 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: For decades, the World Health Organization tried to curb smoking, particularly in poor nations, home to most of the world's one billion smokers. Today, the U.N. body charges the tobacco industry has, for years, been secretly working against anti-smoking efforts.
CNN's Amanda Kibel reports from London.
AMANDA KIBEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The World Health Organization has long targeted smoking as a health risk. Now a WHO report claims tobacco companies have for years systematically and subversively tried to target WHO by undermining its anti-smoking efforts.
DEREK YACH, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Well, it details how the tobacco companies have, for several years -- several decades -- had a systematic plan of action to try and ensure that public policies to control and control tobacco were effectively thwarted.
KIBEL: The 240-page report charges the tobacco industry tried to turn other United Nations agencies against the WHO, tried to discredit the organization, and redirect funding earmarked for its programs. The report also accuses tobacco companies of hiring supposedly independent experts who knowingly distorted results of scientific research. The report, commissioned by the WHO draws much of its evidence from the tobacco industry's own documents, made public during lawsuits brought against the industry in the United States.
Two tobacco companies named in the report did not deny the allegations, but said whatever happened, happened in the past.
MICHAEL PRIDEAUX, BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO CO.: We see no point in remaining fighting the old battles of the past. It's exactly the same tactic that the plaintiffs' lawyers used in the United States. It's rather disappointing to see the WHO going down the same line.
DAVID DAVIES, VICE PRESIDENT, PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL: Essentially, that period of time was one which characterized by a great deal of rancor and conflict. What we are saying is that if we can substitute consensus for conflict, if we can substitute dialog for criticism... KIBEL: But the World Health Organization disagrees. The past, it says, is still very much a part of the present.
YACH: We are certainly aware that many of the practices have not stopped. We still have massive marketing of tobacco products to children around the world, particularly in the developing countries.
KIBEL: The World Health Organization says it will continue its campaign against tobacco use and will continue to push for a treaty governing the worldwide sale, use and advertising of tobacco products.
Amanda Kibel, CNN, London.
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