Only four nations doing enough to stub out smoking: WHO

January 16, 2024 by No Comments

The World Health Organization announced on Monday that only four countries — Brazil, Mauritius, the Netherlands, and Turkey – have taken all of the anti-tobacco steps recommended to fight the “deadly plague” of smoking.

The UN Agency for Health has released a new report that urges countries to increase their use of recognized measures to reduce the use of tobacco, such as enforcing bans on advertising, putting health warnings all over cigarette packaging, increasing tobacco taxes, and offering assistance to those wanting to quit.

Mauritius, the Netherlands, and Brazil had all implemented its recommendations.

WHO said 5.6 billion people, or 71% of the world’s population, were now protected by at least one tobacco control measure — five times more than in 2007.

According to the Health Agency, the rate of smoking prevalence worldwide has dropped from 22,8% in 2007 down to 17% by 2021.

WHO: Without this decline, there would be 300 million more smokers today.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO chief, said that “slowly but steadily, more and people are protected from the harmful effects of tobacco”. He added that his organization was keen to support national efforts “to protect their people from this fatal scourge.”

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. 8.7 million people die each year from smoking, and 1.3 million are killed by secondhand smoke.

Eight countries, according to the organization, are just one step away from being leaders in the tobacco control field: Ethiopia, Iran (Iraq), Ireland, Jordan, Madagascar (Mexico), New Zealand, and Spain.

WHO’s anti-tobacco initiatives have not reached 2.3 billion people across 44 countries.

Ruediger KRECH, WHO’s director of health promotion, said that smoking in medical facilities is still allowed. This is “completely unacceptable”.

The WHO report also criticized the lack of regulation on e-cigarettes.

Around the world, 121 countries have taken some action against e-cigarettes.

Seventy-four countries, which account for almost a third of the global population, have no laws regulating such products. This means that there are no restrictions on their use in public areas, no requirements regarding labeling, and no advertising bans.

The report noted that only 88 countries (representing 2.3 billion people) have a minimum age to purchase e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes, lobbying, and the e-cigarette

Krech said that some companies “hook children on e cigarettes or vaping to nicotine dependence instead”.

Kailesh Jagutpal, Mauritius’ health minister, said that it is better to work with the tobacco industry before changing the laws.

He told reporters that “otherwise, the industry will have developed all kinds of tactics to fight you.”

Krech said that tobacco companies were “insidiously” making their way into policymaking, and he condemned “whitewashing techniques where they tried to be “part of the solution.”

He said, “The tobacco industry continues to grow today in terms of profits and influence.”

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