The World Needs Unity Of Purpose In Tackling The Tobacco Epidemic
Aug 12, 2019
That tobacco use continues to be a global epidemic is not a surprise. Yet the effects it continues to have on individuals and economies are devastating even as efforts to halt the damage remain uncoordinated and haphazard. With an estimated 1.1 billion smokers globally, 80 per cent who live in low and middle income countries, the after effects have taken a toll on global citizens with up to 8 million deaths recorded worldwide as a result of lung diseases and cancer. Even more startling are the more than 890, 000 deaths associated with secondary smoking with 65 per cent of those being women who live and work with men who smoke.
This, combined with the loss to economies as a result of health care expenditures and low productivity calls for a serious global conversation.
It is encouraging to see the sustained pressure on governments to arrest the worrying trend which has inspired a host of tobacco control campaigns including smoking bans, allocating smoking zones in crowded areas and having visual warnings on packaging. Five billion people live in countries where these methods have been instituted.
But that is just scratching the surface. The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has come up with six key areas that are crucial to reduce demand for tobacco. Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies, Protecting people from tobacco smoke, offering help to quit tobacco use, Warning people about the dangers of tobacco, enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and raising taxes on tobacco remain the guiding light in addressing the tobacco menace once and for all.
While efforts by governments, albeit partial, are laudable, a full implementation of the FCTC can be achievable if unity of purpose guided this pursuit. Political will that puts the health of a nation above commercial interests coupled with strengthening of implementing agencies and coordination of players involved are enough to sustain this noble drive.