Japan called a ‘dinosaur’ by NGOs at tobacco talks


Nongovernmental organizations taking part in a 10-day international conference on tobacco consumption on Thursday accused Japan, the United States and Germany of blocking efforts by the World Health Organization to conclude an antismoking treaty.

One NGO representative called Japan a “dinosaur.”

“Their goal is not to reduce the consumption of tobacco,” the NGO representative told a joint press conference, criticizing the stand the Japanese government has taken in negotiations over the WHO-proposed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The draft treaty calls on countries to cut back on tobacco advertising in accordance with their capacities.

This draft is a watered-down version of the original proposal due to opposition by countries with large tobacco industries. The original proposal called for a total ban on tobacco advertising.

The NGOs say that without opposition from Japan, the U.S. and Germany, the draft treaty could be adopted “in a week.”

An NGO representative said Japan Tobacco Inc., Japan’s largest cigarette maker whose Mild Seven is the best-selling cigarette in the country, has opposed a proposal to ban brand names that contain words such as “light” and “mild.”

On the U.S., another NGO representative said, “They want no mention of an ad ban in the treaty, even if it will have no effect on them.”

According to WHO data, Japan tops the list of cigarette importing countries, importing around 83.5 billion cigarettes a year.

It also shows 52.8 percent of Japanese men smoke, the highest ratio among the Group of Seven industrialized countries.

The first session of the global tobacco consumption conference began in 2000. The WHO hopes to get the framework convention adopted in 2003.

The accord would be the world’s first multilaterally negotiated public health treaty aimed at reducing tobacco use and tobacco-related deaths.