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WHO Condemns Tobacco Industry for Misleading Public

The World Health Organization (WHO) Tuesday slammed the tobacco industry for spreading untruths about smoking in public places in a bid to counter an increasing number of smoking bans around the world.

The WHO said the tobacco industry has repeatedly "misled and misinformed the public about the health risks and dangers of second-hand tobacco smoke and about the economic impact of smoking bans."

"We all know that smoking kills," Shigeru Omi, director of the WHO's Western Pacific regional office, which is based in Manila, said in a statement ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

"What is less well known is that hundreds of thousands of people who have never smoked die each year from diseases caused by breathing smoke from other people's cigarettes," he added. "The solution is simple: 100 percent smoke-free environments."

"What isn't so simple is overcoming tobacco industry untruths about smoke-free policies," he lamented.

With "Smoke-Free Environments" as the theme of World No Tobacco Day, Omi urged leaders to protect people from second-hand tobacco smoke by passing and enforcing laws requiring smoking bans in all indoor and public places.

He warned that second-hand smoke causes cancer, acute and chronic heart disease and has been linked to bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma. In children, it is linked to lower respiratory infections, asthma, middle-ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome.

The WHO also cited a 2004 study that found that as many women in China died from second-hand smoke exposure as they did from smoking. Research has also shown that 100 percent smoke-free environments are good for business, cost little and prevent people from taking up smoking.

"Despite this evidence, the tobacco industry continues to perpetuate myths that ventilation systems can protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke exposure, that smoke-free policies hurt busi
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