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Representatives from countries around the world pledged to tackle preventable causes of disease including smoking and excessive drinking, at the United Nations (UN) Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases this week in New York. The meeting, which ended Tuesday, addressed the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases worldwide.

Participants in the meeting, who included heads of state and ministers of health, also agreed to fight lack of exercise and unhealthy diets, in order to prevent millions of deaths from cancer, diabetes, and heart and lung disease, according to the Associated Press. They agreed to speed up implementation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) anti-smoking treaty and its worldwide strategies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, and to promote healthy diets and exercise.

WHO Director General Margaret Chan, urged world leaders to stand up to the tobacco and fast food industries, the AP noted. She praised efforts by countries including Australia and Uruguay to impose tough measures on tobacco advertising. She cautioned, however, “Watch out. Even an old dog like the tobacco industry can learn some dirty new tricks,” according to a UN news release.

In advance of the meeting, the WHO made recommendations to reduce deaths from noninfectious diseases, including taxes on tobacco and alcohol, as well as smoke-free laws. Other recommendations by the WHO included bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, restricted access to retail alcohol and bans on alcohol advertising.


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