According to a latest report from the World Health Organization on the worldwide epidemic of tobacco addiction, the efforts to control tobacco use has increased notably over the last ten years.
Tobacco control measures include advertising and public awareness campaigns, graphic warnings on the packs and bans on smoking in public zones. The report says that in 2007 only 1 billion people and around 15% of the world population was exposed to some form of measure that warned them against tobacco use.
In 2017, the report says, around 4.7 billion people and 63% of the world population can see a “no smoking” warning or sign. This is a huge leap and the report says that this heartening trend has saved millions of lives being lost before their time.
According to the WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2017 these numbers could still rise if it were not for the constant interference from the tobacco industry, that understandably wants to stop the complete efforts of the government to advertise ban on tobacco use to save lives and health care costs.
The industry continuously works against these measures by threatening litigation or by refuting science that tobacco is harmful for health and by inflating the economic importance of the tobacco industry in the country’s financial strength.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General called on the governments to incorporate all the clauses of the “WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” (WHO FCTC) into their national policies that control tobacco use. Illicit tobacco trade that leads to serious health and social consequences also need to stop. He reiterated the utility of these preventive measures and how they can save millions of lives and billions of dollars a year in health care costs and loss of productivity. This four times rise in the number of persons exposed to a tobacco control measure is due to the fact that more and more countries are incorporating the policies of the WHO FCTC in their national policies he explained.
The WHO FCTC has a “MPOWER” measure that supports the incorporation of the reduction of tobacco demands. MPOWER was started in 2008 in order to promote the government activities on six tobacco control strategies. These include close monitoring of tobacco use and prevention of its use, protecting people from passive smoking and its hazards, offering tobacco quitting support, warning people against tobacco, banning tobacco advertising and raising taxes on tobacco containing products.
The six tenets of MPOWER are;
- Protect (against passive smoking)
- Offer (help and support)
- Enforce and
- Raise (taxes)
The report also finds that 43% of the population globally or 3.2 billion individuals are covered with at least two measures of MPOWER. This is seven times higher than that of 2007.
At least four or more MPOWER measures were incorporated by eight countries around the world including the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Brazil, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Madagascar, Malta, Panama and Turkey.
Nepal leads in the graphic warnings on the packet covers with 90% of the packs being covered in graphic warnings against tobacco. This was introduced after a huge number of tobacco users were detected in the country. India has started nationwide tobacco cessation programme and toll-free quit line in 2016 after surveys found that at least 50% of tobacco users want to quit tobacco use but did not know how.
Philippines has a Sin Tax Reform Law since 2012 that has seen tobacco demand reductions. Smoke free zones and laws are in place for 55 countries.
Tobacco cessation treatment is in place in 26 countries. Graphic warnings on labels are in place in 78 countries. Bans on advertising are in place for only 15% of the world populations at this time says the report. Raising taxes is also not a very popular measure finds the report.
According to Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies MPOWER has been highly effective in reducing the number of tobacco related deaths that is one in ten worldwide.
This new report is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and further shows that one third of the countries worldwide monitor tobacco use closely. This was one quarter in 2007. More numbers are needed to make the efforts stronger. The report adds that countries with limited resources can also implement several of the MPOWER measures.