Some 10,000 people die worldwide each year from the effect of illicit drugs, writes Peter G. Bourne in the Los Angeles Times, but: More than 2.5 million die from the effects of tobacco. More Colombians die from the effects of American tobacco than do Americans from cocaine, and more Thais die from our tobacco than do Americans from Southeast Asian heroin.
At the same time that the administration is campaigning to prevent drug trafficking to the U.S., writes Bourne, who is president of the American Association for World Health, our government is actively promoting the sale of U.S. tobacco products to the rest of the world. It has threatened three countries with trade sanctions for refusing to open up their markets to United States tobacco products, and is threatening other countries that have banned or are strictly regulating their advertisement and promotion. It is a modern version of the Opium Wars of the 1840s, when the British sent a military force to compel the Chinese government... to continue to allow its population to be supplied by British and American opium merchants.
The United States, Bourne argues, can not plausibly lead the global effort to control drug trafficking while it remains the worlds primary purveyor of drug-related death and disease through the export of its tobacco products. A shift in U.S. policy would go far to re-establish the sagging credibility of the Presidents anti-drug effort and provide strong leadership for the war on drugs worldwide.
from: World Development Forum Vol. 7 No. 17, September 30, 1989
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