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Smoking Threat: U.S. Restrictions Pushing Cigarette Sales Worldwide

Aired August 8, 2000 - 2:42 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: Tobacco companies, as you know, have come under increasing fire, here in the United States, over the past decade. This week, Chicago hosts the World Conference on Tobacco.

And CNN's Christy Feig takes a look at how restrictions in the U.S. have played a role in what tobacco companies are doing worldwide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the dust settled between the states and big tobacco, the companies were forced to restrict how they market cigarettes in the United States, giving them an incentive to step up sales in other countries.

MATTHEW MYERS, CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS: As a result, we're seeing dramatically increased smoking rates in developing poor countries, countries that can least afford the health-care costs from tobacco-caused disease.

FEIG: About 1.1 billion people smoke worldwide, a number that is expected to increase to more than 1.6 billion by 2025.

MYERS: Worldwide this year, four million people are going to die from tobacco. But if current trends continue, by 2020, that number will grow to 10 million. And the even greater tragedy is that 70 percent of those people will be in developing nations.

FEIG: A new study by the World Health Organization and the World Bank says higher taxes are the key to lowering tobacco use, particularly among the young worldwide.

Many countries have taken steps on their own to control tobacco. Now the World Health Organization is calling for all countries to join together to create universal controls through an international treaty.

DR. GRO HARLEM BRUNDTLAND, DIR. GEN., WORLD HEALTH ORG.: It will advise higher taxation. It will advise active cooperation across borders to counter smuggling because, otherwise, taxation is undermined.

FEIG: Philip Morris, the largest U.S. tobacco producer, has 14 percent of the international market. They say higher taxes are not necessarily the answer. DAVID GREENBERG, PHILIP MORRIS INTL.: You've got places where tax is 70 and 80 percent of the price of the product, but yet there is still a youth smoking problem. So what we need to do is really together with the WHO launch a comprehensive attack on youth smoking.

FEIG (on camera): In October, the World Health Organization plans to call all sides to the table and begin negotiations on the international treaty. Their hope: to create standards that can be enforced, even in developing countries.

Christy Feig, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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