In Japan, 10th APACT Conference fights Asia’s tobacco epidemic

Public health advocates in the Asia-Pacific region want tobacco excluded from the products covered by a proposed regional free trade agreement.

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement would otherwise undermine international efforts to curb cigarette companies’ advertising, the Asia Pacific Association for the Control of Tobacco (APACT) said in a statement August 20.

The call came during the 10th APACT Conference, which drew more than 700 delegates from 40 countries to Tokyo last week, among them Seventh-day Adventists. The trade partnership, delegates said, would give tobacco companies more traction to sue countries over advertising bans or other public health measures designed to restrict the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Several major tobacco companies recently sued the Thai government for increasing the size of graphic health warnings on cigarette packs from 55 percent to 85 percent.

“APACT was organized to protect Asia from the tobacco industry,” said Kyoichi Miyazaki, secretary-general of the non-governmental organization and Adventist Church member. “We are dedicated to continuing that legacy and ending the tobacco epidemic in Asia.”

Indeed, APACT was established in 1989 to fight trade sanctions designed to promote the free sale of tobacco products in Korea, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan.

Since then, the organization has worked to stem the flow of tobacco to developing countries in Asia by implementing aggressive tobacco control programs, including bans on cigarette smoking, restriction of smoking in public places and comprehensive educational and intervention programs, Miyazaki said.

APACT founder Dr. David Yen was a major advocate for emerging tobacco control in the region and lobbied aggressively for anti-tobacco legislation, Miyazaki said during a keynote speech to honor the late leader. Read Full Story

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