The U.S. delegation to the international conference in Geneva yesterday expressed "reservations" about a resolution calling for comprehensive measures to control the health hazards of cigarette smoking worldwide.
The resolution, introduced by the Saudi Arabian delegation to the World Health Assembly, urged member countries to fight the spread of smoking through increased taxation and bans on cigarette promotion in the news media.
While supporting the resolution the U.S. delegation noted that "some of the measures called for . . . go beyond the limits of the present policy of the U.S. government, and even (the U.S.) Constitution.
It added that "support for the resolution should not be taken to imply that rapid changes in our current policies will now occur."
According to Carter administration officials, there were some differences of opinion here over the U.S. response to the proposal of the Saudi, who sought American co-sponsorship. White House adviser George O'Keefe said there was a "general consensus that we could not cosponsor it in its present form."
The federal government's role in reducing the health hazards of smoking has engendered controversy since Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph A. Califano Jr. recently opened a campaign to educate Americans about the dangers. Califano's campaign has been criticized by tobacco farmers, the cigarette industry, and others.
O'Keefe said the proposal to limit cigarette advertising touches on the "question of freedom of the press." He said newspapers appear to have a constitutional right to accept advertising.