FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 11, 2008
World health experts launch anti-smoking crusade
Newspapers report on nutrition, exercise, skin care, food safety, avoiding germs and staying healthy in general. Send students to recent editions or the online paper to find an article of interest on a health or fitness topic.
Medical, diet and drug studies make news regularly. If class members can locate an example, have them discuss whether information is presented clearly and in non-technical language. Does the report tell how the public could be affected or what people can do?
News and advertising are strictly separate, so readers occasionally see mixed messages about products that health specialists suggest avoiding or using in moderation. Challenge pupils to spot or think of examples. Invite comments on how readers can evaluate each source of information.
In a new anti-tobacco campaign, a United Nations agency is urging countries to do more to prevent smoking-related deaths. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco cause about one in every 10 adult deaths globally, warns the World Health Organization. That toll is expected to rise steeply, it says, as tobacco companies target new customers -- particularly women -- in low-income countries.
While the UN health experts can't force countries to impose tobacco taxes that raise prices, to ban smoking in public sites and workplaces, and to educate residents about smoking risks, the agency hopes to convince leaders that such efforts are cheap, proven and especially helpful to their poorest citizens. "In many countries, money spent by the poor on cigarettes is taken away from what they could spend on health and education," says a World Health Organization economist.
The Tobacco-Free Initiative was announced last week in New York City with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a wealthy former businessman whose charitable foundation donated $2 million for a UN agency report on worldwide smoking risks. "We all could do more," says the mayor, an ex-smoker. He favors a complete ban on tobacco ads and wants graphic cancer images on cigarette packs.
UN official says: "If present trends continue, up to one billion lives could be lost to tobacco-related deaths in this century. We are predicting that the current 5.4 million deaths due to tobacco consumption in this year will increase to eight million in 2030. And, if those relentless trends continue, we can see a catastrophic toll." -- Douglas Bettcher, director of Tobacco-Free Initiative
NYC mayor says: "You have a right to kill yourself. I don't think it's very smart, but you have a right to do it. I don't think you have a right to smoke where other people have to breathe the air." -- Michael Bloomberg
Largest targets: China has nearly 30 percent of the world's smokers and India accounts for about 10 percent of all tobacco use.
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