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Claims of substantial progress in tobacco control look like smoke screen

| July 11, 2013

A recent report claims that “substantial progress” has been made in global tobacco control since the adoption of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) 10 years ago.

This is despite the fact that the conclusions to the report’s executive summary admit that two-thirds of the world’s population are not fully protected in respect of any of the WHO’s MPOWER measures. These measures are said to correspond to one or more of the demand reduction provisions included in the WHO FCTC: 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.

“Substantial progress has been made in global tobacco control since adoption of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ten years ago,” according to the executive summary conclusions to the WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2013.

“Since WHO introduced the six demand reduction measures (MPOWER) in 2008 in line with the WHO FCTC, the number of countries successfully establishing one or more of the measures at the highest level of achievement and the number of people covered by those measures have more than doubled.

“Today, about one-third of the world’s population is now covered by at least one of the measures at the highest level (not including monitoring). An additional 3 billion people are covered by national mass-media campaigns. As a result, hundreds of millions of tobacco users are protected from the harms of tobacco by governments to improve their health and the health of others, and hundreds of millions of nonsmokers are less likely to start. Despite this progress, significant gaps remain in establishing effective tobacco control measures in most countries.

“Much more remains to be done to ensure that recent successes in tobacco control can be further expanded. Even as the number of countries establishing complete tobacco control measures has increased, more than half do not yet provide high-level protection for their people on any measure. And while the number of people covered by high-level measures has increased substantially, two-thirds of the world’s population have yet to be fully protected in any one area, let alone all of them.

“The successes demonstrated by many countries in using demand reduction measures to build capacity to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control show that it is possible to effectively address the tobacco epidemic and save lives, regardless of size or income. However, efforts to incorporate all provisions of the WHO Framework Convention into national tobacco control programmes must be accelerated in all countries to save even more lives.”

The full report and executive summary are at http://www.who.int/tobacco/global_report/2013/en/index.html.

Category: Breaking News

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