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May 06, 2001

Discovery Health Channel Latin America and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have launched a public service campaign that will air on May 31, in celebration of World No Tobacco Day, to raise awareness in Latin America about the health impact of tobacco and in particular the risks associated with second-hand smoke.

According to PAHO estimates, close to 400,000 people are killed annually by direct tobacco use in Latin America and the Caribbean. Second-hand smoke is a major indoor air pollutant, classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a “class A” or human carcinogen for which there is no safe level of exposure. In Latin America, children are being exposed to high rates of second-hand smoke in their home, causing serious respiratory problems. The number of tobacco users in Latin America varies per country. Some of the figures include Chile and Argentina at 40%, Uruguay at 32%, Peru and Bolivia at 30%, Mexico at 28%, Colombia and Costa Rica at 18% and Panama at 14%.

Discovery Health Latin America has joined forces with PAHO to educate people about the dangers of second-hand smoke and promote smoke-free spaces. The 30-second television spot, which will air throughout May 31, features cartoon characters from Monica’s Gang showing in a simple but effective way the risks associated with second-hand smoke. In addition
to the PSA, Discovery Health Latin America will air three specials within “Health Diary” that profiles tobacco addiction. “Quit Smoking” will air at 13:00 and 14:30, “Nicotine Addiction” will air at 17:00 and 20:00 and “Nicotine Addiction II” will air at 17:30 and 20:30 (Miami Time).

The Pan American Health Organization, founded in 1902, serves as the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization as well as the specialized agency for health for the inter-American system. With offices in almost every country in the Western Hemisphere, PAHO seeks to promote and protect health for all the people in the region. For more
information, see www.paho.org.

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