Anti-smoking policies now cover one sixth of world citizens, says WHO

24 Jul 17

The proportion of the world’s population covered by anti-tobacco smoking measures has quadrupled in the past decade, the World Health Organisation has said.

It said tobacco use was the leading single preventable cause of death worldwide, causing more than seven million fatalities each year and costing more than $1.4ttn in health care costs and lost productivity.

There were now 4.7bn people – equivalent to 63% of world’s population – covered by anti-smoking policies such as graphic packaging warnings and smoke-free public places, compared with only 1 billion (15%) in 2007.

The WHO’s report The Global Tobacco Epidemic 2017 said though that the tobacco industry “continues to hamper government efforts to fully implement life- and cost-saving interventions”.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “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.

“They must also clamp down on the illicit tobacco trade, which is exacerbating the global tobacco epidemic and its related health and socioeconomic consequences.”

The report found that one third of countries had comprehensive systems to monitor tobacco use.

By generating data on youth and adults, they could promote health, save healthcare costs and generate revenues for government services.

The WHO has promoted six tobacco control measures in its ‘Mpower’ programme.

These are: monitor tobacco use and prevention policies; protect people from tobacco smoke; offer to quit tobacco use; warn people about the dangers of tobacco; enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; raise taxes on tobacco.

Eight countries had implemented four or more Mpower measures – Brazil, Iran, Ireland, Madagascar, Malta, Panama, Turkey and the UK – while Nepal has introduced the world’s largest health warnings on tobacco packaging surfaces and India has launched a nationwide tobacco cessation programme after a survey found half of all smokers were interested in this.

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