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The World Medical Association (WMA), representing some 85 national medical associations, adopted a strong new statement on tobacco at its general assembly held in Copenhagen, Denmark in October. The main recommendations of the new statement, developed by amending one first adopted in 1988 and then revised in 1997, are addressed to all national medical associations and all physicians, urging them to take a wide range of action to help reduce the health hazards related to tobacco use. Such action includes adopting a policy position opposing smoking and the use of tobacco products, and publicising the policy; prohibiting smoking at all business, social, scientific and ceremonial meetings of national medical associations, in line with the WMA’s decision to impose a similar ban at all its own meetings; and undertaking programmes to educate the profession and the public about the health hazards of tobacco use (including addiction) and exposure to secondhand smoke, as well as supporting cessation and prevention.
In addition, a long list of other, specific action is recommended, covering physician activity in virtually all areas of tobacco control policy at every level. Of special note are those areas deriving from the special potential and responsibilities of physicians, often underrated or overlooked by medical associations, such as the exemplar role of physicians, their duty to oppose tobacco industry funding of education and research, increasing input about tobacco in medical education and influencing governments to implement model tobacco control policy. The entire statement can be found at http://www.wma.net/e/policy/h4.htm.