WHO stops hiring smokers

The World Health Organization has stopped hiring smokers as part of its commitment to controlling tobacco use, a spokesman said Friday. "The reason is that WHO has taken a very public lead in the fight against tobacco use," said spokesman Iain Simpson. "As a matter of principle WHO does not want to recruit smokers."

As of Dec. 1, all vacancy notices include a line stating that the U.N. health agency does not promote tobacco use or recruit smokers, Simpson explained. Applicants are asked if they smoke or use other tobacco products and if they answer yes, the application process is terminated, he added. According to an internal WHO memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, there is no penalization of serving staff who use tobacco, but they cannot smoke on the agency's premises.

Designated outdoor areas where smoking is tolerated will remain until further notice. "There is no intention to end or shorten the contracts of serving WHO staff in relation to their use of tobacco," the memo added. The agency encourages staff who smoke or use tobacco to quit and already has several measures in place to help, the memo said.

"Tobacco use is the major preventable cause of death in the world, killing nearly 5 million people annually. Tobacco use is addictive," it explained. "There is no safe way of using tobacco, and no safe threshold levels have been established", reports the AP. N.U.

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