By Caty Weaver

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

Almost one-hundred-fifty nations have held the first of a series of negotiations about a treaty to control tobacco use. The World Health Organization organized the talks in Geneva, Switzerland. The W-H-O says diseases linked to tobacco use kill four-million people a year. And, it says that number will increase to ten-million a year in thirty years if no action is taken.

The W-H-O's anti-smoking campaign is a major part of its world health program. The organization wants a signed anti-tobacco treaty within three years. The W-H-O wants the treaty to ban multinational tobacco companies from advertising and supporting sports events. It wants the treaty to increase taxes to make cigarettes more costly. It says the treaty should fight the illegal trade in cigarettes. And it wants the treaty to include measures to reduce the number of young people who smoke.

Celso Amorim of Brazil was chairman of the six days of talks. Mr. Amorim says the delegates proposed some very strong measures to reduce tobacco use. But, he says there is much hard work ahead.

Mr. Amorim says most of the nations officially expressed opposition to cigarette smoking. But, he says there is disagreement on how to stop trade in cigarettes across borders. Mr. Amorim says some countries believe common cigarette tax systems are the answer.

Health activists were pleased with the progress at the talks. They say they were especially hopeful about the support expressed for major restrictions on tobacco advertising.

A representative of the American Lung Association says his group was happy about the concern shown for the effects of tobacco smoke on non-smokers. He says a number of countries called for strong measures to reduce what is called second-hand smoke. For example, American negotiators supported measures to ban smoking in public places for children, and in eating and drinking places.

A major issue in the anti-tobacco effort deals with the economies of nations that grow tobacco. Those countries want to know if they will receive financial help if they reduce or stop growing tobacco. Many poor countries support a special supply of money for tobacco growers who take such action. However, Canada and the United States support other kinds of financial assistance to such countries.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Caty Weaver.

Voice of America Special English