​WHO report: dramatic increase in life-saving tobacco control policies

22-07-2017 10:36 PM

Georgette Sadeq


The latest WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic published recently finds that more countries have implemented tobacco control policies, ranging from graphic pack warnings and advertising bans to no smoking areas. About 4.7 billion people–63 per cent of the world’s population–are covered by at least one comprehensive tobacco control measure. This proportion has quadrupled since 2007 when only 1 billion people and 15 per cent of the world’s population, were covered. Strategies to implement such policies have saved millions of people from an early death.

The report denounced the tobacco industry which, it declared, continues to hamper government efforts to fully implement life- and cost-saving interventions. “Governments around the world must waste no time in incorporating all the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control into their national tobacco control programmes and policies,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “They must also clamp down on the illicit tobacco trade, which is exacerbating the global tobacco epidemic and its related health and socio economic consequences.”

Dr Tedros adds: “Working together, countries can prevent millions of people from dying each year from preventable tobacco-related illness, and save billions of dollars a year in avoidable health-care expenditures and productivity losses.”

Strategies to support implementation of tobacco demand reduction measures in the WHO FCTC, like the “MPOWER” measures, have saved millions of people from an early death. MPOWER was established in 2008 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies in line with the WHO FCTC to:

Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies;

Protect people from tobacco smoke;

Offer help to quit tobacco use;

Warn people about the dangers of tobacco;

Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and

Raise taxes on tobacco.

“One in ten deaths around the world is caused by tobacco, but we can change that through MPOWER tobacco control measures, which have proven highly effective,” says Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The progress that’s been made worldwide – and documented throughout this report – shows that it is possible for countries to turn the tide.”

“Tobacco industry interference in government policy making represents a deadly barrier to advancing health and development in many countries,” says

Dr Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO’s department for the prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). “But by monitoring and blocking such activities, we can save lives and sow the seeds for a sustainable future for all.”

Controlling tobacco use is a key part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda includes targets to strengthen national implementation of the WHO FCTC and a one-third reduction in premature deaths from NCDs, including heart and lung diseases, cancer and diabetes. Tobacco use is a leading common risk factor for NCDs, which kill 40 million people each year, equivalent to 70% of all deaths globally, including 15 million people aged between 30 and 69. Over 80% of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Watani International

22 July 2017

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