The end of cigarette diplomacy?

Earlier this week, the U.N. General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution to ban smoking in the New York halls of the U.N. — with an optional extension to country branches. Vote yes, urged resolution sponsor Uruguay! Bravo, said the World Health Organization! Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Seventy-two countries have imposed smoking bans — so ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
591631_070924_smoking_05.jpg
591631_070924_smoking_05.jpg

Earlier this week, the U.N. General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution to ban smoking in the New York halls of the U.N. -- with an optional extension to country branches. Vote yes, urged resolution sponsor Uruguay! Bravo, said the World Health Organization!

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Seventy-two countries have imposed smoking bans -- so why not guard the health of this international body? 

Apparently diplomats are a stubborn lot, clinging to their cigarettes and sovereignty. Kofi Annan, the previous secretary-general, tried to "discourage" smoking, to the obvious disregard of many:

Earlier this week, the U.N. General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution to ban smoking in the New York halls of the U.N. — with an optional extension to country branches. Vote yes, urged resolution sponsor Uruguay! Bravo, said the World Health Organization!

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Seventy-two countries have imposed smoking bans — so why not guard the health of this international body? 

Apparently diplomats are a stubborn lot, clinging to their cigarettes and sovereignty. Kofi Annan, the previous secretary-general, tried to “discourage” smoking, to the obvious disregard of many:

As Reuters reported Thursday, many in the U.N.’s lounges doubt this latest resolution will have any effect. 

Sigh (cough). Looks like the body charged with “the responsibility to protect” world citizens could ironically fall victim to its own vices, as five million smokers do each year. For an organization so fond of statistics, this one would be worth listening to.

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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