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Developing countries vow to shut door on Big Tobacco

150-plus nations agreed this weekend to cut lobbyists' ties to government.

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One hundred sixty nations, many of them in the developing world, have vowed to stand up to the tobacco industry and its efforts to water down antitobacco laws.

Bolstered by a 2005 global treaty, sponsored by the World Health Organization – the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control – more than 100 nations have created new laws to ban public smoking, ban tobacco advertising, particularly those targeting youths, and ban partnerships between tobacco companies and government. This weekend, at a meeting in Durban, South Africa, countries took that treaty a step further by agreeing that tobacco lobbyists must be prevented from interfering with healthcare policy.

"This was a big step," says Kathy Mulvey, international policy director for Corporate Accountability International, based in Boston. "The anchor principle of this meeting was that there is a fundamental conflict between tobacco industry interests and public health interests. These guidelines will help advocates and public officials begin to slam the door on tobacco industry tactics, and focus on implementing the treaty's lifesaving measures."

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