Smoking Curbs Hailed as Important Step in Preventing Cancer; Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker Urges Other Countries to Follow Lead
WASHINGTON – August 18, 2010 –
Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, today praised Egypt’s new anti-tobacco campaign, saying similar actions to curb smoking are needed in “every corner of the globe because ultimately, there are millions of lives at stake.”
The Egyptian government’s new laws reinforce a call that Brinker made in Cairo last year in a speech to the country’s government health officials, oncologists, and patient advocacy groups about the need to curb tobacco use.
Brinker, who also is the World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control, has called on world health leaders to make cancer a greater priority, establishing the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Global Health Alliance this summer to focus on women’s cancers worldwide.
“Making cancer a priority means making tobacco control a priority,” Brinker told the Egyptian officials at a World Health Organization anti-tobacco event in Cairo last October. “Often times this means we have to change a culture. And all of us in the global health community have an obligation to make that happen. We must expand our reach to every corner of the globe because ultimately, there are millions of lives at stake.”
On July 1, the Egyptian government raised taxes on cigarettes to 40 percent for cigarette tobacco and to 100 percent for the tobacco that smokers use in public hookah pipes, often found in restaurants and sidewalk cafés. In September, authorities will also impose an indoor smoking ban in the coastal city of Alexandria.
“While we are buoyed by these actions, we know a long and difficult challenge remains before us,” Brinker said today. “We know enforcement of this anti-tobacco effort and others to follow in the coming months will be tough. Changing cultures is very difficult and it takes time, but it is possible.”
Brinker cited the success Komen for the Cure has had on fighting breast cancer in cultures around the world since its inception nearly 30 years ago.
“We started with nothing but a promise and a lot of determination,” Brinker said. “But we started the fight. And we built an organization and a network, we raised awareness and funds, and we didn’t take no for an answer. And today we are the largest breast cancer organization in the world.” Today, Komen is active in 50 countries and has dedicated more than $1.5 billion to cancer research and community programs.
"The government wants people to regard smoking as undesirable and unacceptable," Ehab Attia, head of the environmental health department at the Egyptian Ministry of Health, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal this week. "The stage we want to reach is where the people themselves ban smoking and refuse to be around it."
For highlights of the World Tobacco Conference, please visit http://www.emro.who.int/tfi/pdf/Event_highlights2009.pdf.