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WHO applauded the strong warnings on cigarette packages
A global treaty aimed at dissuading children from smoking and helping adults kick the habit came into force on Sunday with the United Nations saying it could save millions of lives. The World Health Organization (WHO) applauded the strong warnings on cigarette packages and the eventual ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship laid down in the world's first international public health treaty. "It's entry into force is a demonstration of governments' commitment to reduce death and illness from tobacco use," said WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook in a statement to mark the event. Tobacco, the second leading cause of preventable deaths globally after hypertension, kills 4.9 million people a year, the U.N. agency says. And the annual death toll from tobacco-related diseases -- lung cancer, heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases -- could soar to 10 million by 2020, with 70 percent of the deaths in developing countries, informs Reuters. According to the Voice of America, the coordinator of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Douglas Bettcher, says the treaty is a tool that, if properly implemented, can curb the global tobacco epidemic. "It is an historical moment and we are very confident that this treaty is going to save lives," said Douglas Bettcher. "It has already started off a powerful process globally and we are very confident that it is going to continue to do so and it is going to prove itself as a very effective public health tool to really curb this unacceptable burden of disease and death." In all, 167 countries have signed the treaty. But, it is legally binding only for the 57 countries that have ratified it. The treaty sets standards and guidelines for tobacco advertising, pricing and smuggling. It also aims to limit non-smokers' exposure to other people's smoke
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