Only four countries making full efforts to end smoking: WHOACTA
Netherlands, Mauritius join Brazil and Turkey in implementing all recommended measures to reduce tobacco smoking globally.
Netherlands and Mauritius have now joined Brazil and Turkey in implementing all the recommended measures to reduce tobacco smoking globally, United Nations’ health agency the World Health Organization said on July 31, 2023.
However, despite the welcome news that more than seven in 10 people on the planet — 5.6 billion — are now protected by measures to curb the dangers of tobacco smoke, 8.7 million people still die from tobacco-related diseases every year, the WHO said.
In a fresh report, WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2023: protect people from tobacco smoke, the UN health agency urged countries to scale up their use of recognised measures to reduce tobacco use.
The MPOWER tobacco control measures by the health agency provide tips on quitting and preventing passive smoking, as well as information on tobacco risks, information on restrictions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship and information about raising taxes on tobacco.
The global rate of the prevalence of smoking had dropped from 22.8 per cent in 2007 to 17 per cent in 2021. Without this decline, there would have been 300 million additional smokers now, the WHO said.
“Slowly but surely, more and more people are being protected from the harms of tobacco,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, adding his organisation was eager to support national efforts to “protect their people from this deadly scourge”.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death, killing 8.7 million people each year, including 1.3 million who die from inhaling second-hand smoke, the health agency said.
Apart from the four countries, eight are one policy step away from joining the leaders in tobacco control: Ethiopia, Iran, Ireland, Jordan, Madagascar, Mexico, New Zealand and Spain, the WHO added.
However, 2.3 billion people in 44 countries remain unprotected without any WHO anti-tobacco measures in place. And a full 53 states still do not have complete smoking bans in healthcare facilities, it further warned.
The poor regulation of e-cigarettes was also decried by the new report. Globally, 121 countries have adopted some measures addressing e-cigarettes.
However, 74 countries have no regulations in place addressing such products, meaning no bans on use in public places, no labelling requirements and no bans on advertising.
“Astonishingly, very few countries have measures in place to protect children,” the report said, noting that 88 countries, covering 2.3 billion people, have no minimum age for buying e-cigarettes.
“Young people, including those who never previously smoked, are a particular target,” Ghebreyesus said. “In fact, e-cigarettes are harmful to both the people using them and those around them, especially when used indoors.”
Although new WHO data indicates that the percentage of people who smoke has declined, challenges remain in regulating e-cigarettes and other heated tobacco items.