Not my description, but Chris Snowdon’s.
First, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan drops out of giving a speech about Ebola.
The Director-General sends you her best wishes for a productive session. She is fully occupied with coordinating the international response to what is unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times.
Instead she shows up in Moscow to give a speech to the FCTC conference that’s running there this week. Clearly she believes that the “tobacco epidemic” is the “most severe acute public health emergency in modern times,” and not Ebola.
And what’s the first thing the conference does? Kicks out the press and the public before discussing a global 70% tax hike on tobacco. (Can the unelected WHO tax the whole world?)
A tobacco reduction conference hosted by the World Health Organization, the United Nation’s public health agency, took a hostile and alarming turn on Monday when the public was kicked out of the meeting.
The tyrannical attack on the principles of transparency and accountability took place when delegates from more than 175 countries who are part of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a UN global anti-tobacco treaty, agreed unanimously to boot spectators. Delegates then voted to ban the public from the Moscow conference center where the event is taking place for the duration of the week-long meeting…
After the doors were slammed shut and the meeting resumed, it became clear why the delegates chased the public away: They wanted to work on passing a global tax on tobacco in secret.
The international tobacco tax proposal would require that countries who signed the UN anti-tobacco agreement – nearly every major nation in the world except for the United States, Switzerland and Indonesia – to enact an excise tax equal to at least 70 percent of the retail price of tobacco products. That means a $10 pack of cigarettes would cost more than $33.
In other related news, an idea for a new prohibition is being floated:
A new survey found that over 60 per cent of people in the UK believe that employees in the food industry and health service should be completely prohibited from smoking. Over 40 per cent agreed that the emergency services and teachers should also have enforced restrictions on smoking.
Clearly they think that employees are serfs rather than free people.
And the US Department of Defense is considering a different prohibition:
The Department of Defense is studying a ban on the sale of cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco on bases and ships. Without committing himself, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has spoken favorably of the idea, citing health-care costs: “I think we owe it to our people.”
And in Australia, Healthway has got the opera Carmen removed from an opera company’s schedule:
The West Australian Opera has announced it will not program the opera Carmen in the next two years, after it secured $400,000 in sponsorship from Healthway, because the story features smoking.
The 1875 work by Georges Bizet is one of the world’s most popular operas and the heroine, Carmen, works in a Spanish cigarette factory.
Perhaps it’s that, as the Ebola epidemic has spun out of control, the WHO has responded by doing the only thing it knows how to do: ramp up its war on tobacco.
After all, while it was ignoring Ebola in West Africa, the WHO was busy compiling detailed reports on Tobacco Control measures in Africa, and pressuring sub-Saharan countries to implement the terms of the FCTC in the face of the “red alert” of the “tobacco epidemic”:
The alert is red – we must force governments to recognise that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, diseases and disability. It contributes to the nearly 6 million deaths caused by tobacco use annually.
Because, y’see, the tobacco epidemic is much more serious than the Ebola epidemic. Forget Ebola. It’s the tobacco epidemic that is the real red alert. Ebola has killed barely 4,000 people so far. But tobacco kills 6 million every year.
So you do understand now why Margaret Chan ducked out of giving a speech about Ebola, and concentrated instead on the real “acute public health emergency in modern times”: the global tobacco epidemic?
You do understand, don’t you?