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Tobacco Industry Continues To Hamper Efforts To Implement Life Saving Interventions: WHO

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% of the world’s population – are covered by at least one comprehensive tobacco control measure, which has quadrupled since 2007 when only 1 billion people and 15% of the world’s population were covered. Strategies to implement such policies have saved millions of people from early death.

Governments must also clamp down on the illicit tobacco trade
However, the tobacco industry continues to hamper government efforts to fully implement life- and cost-saving interventions, according to the new WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2017. 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 socioeconomic 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."

4.7 billion people are protected by at least one “best practice”
Today, 4.7 billion people are protected by at least one “best practice” tobacco control measure from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), 3.6 billion more people than in 2007, according to the report. This progress has been possible because governments have intensified action to implement key measures of the WHO FCTC. Strategies to support implementation of tobacco demand reduction measures in the WHO FCTC, like the “MPOWER” measures, have saved millions of people from early death, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars in the past decade. MPOWER was established in 2008 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies.

“One in 10 deaths around the world is caused by tobacco"
“One in 10 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. Bloomberg Philanthropies looks forward to working with Director-General Dr Tedros and continuing our work with WHO.”

By generating data on youth and adults, countries can promote health
Even countries with limited resources can monitor tobacco use and implement prevention policies. By generating data on youth and adults, countries can, in turn, promote health, save healthcare costs and generate revenues for government services, the report finds. It adds that systematic monitoring of tobacco industry interference in government policymaking protects public health by shedding light on tobacco industry tactics. These include exaggerating the economic importance of the tobacco industry, discrediting proven science, and using litigation to intimidate governments. “Countries can better protect their citizens, including children, from the tobacco industry and its products when they use tobacco monitoring systems,” says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs). “Tobacco industry interference in government policy-making represents a deadly barrier to advancing health and development in many countries,” says Dr Bettcher. “But by monitoring and blocking such activities, we can save lives and sow the seeds for a sustainable future for all.”