Jul. 10 2013
A new report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that as a result of new tobacco control policies adopted by countries in just the last five years, the global population covered by at least one effective tobacco control measure has more than doubled - from one billion in 2008 to 2.3 billion in 2012. The latest figure represents more than one-third of the world’s population and signifies a promising trend in the global fight against tobacco use.
The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2013, is the fourth report the WHO has issued assessing countries’ progress in fighting the global tobacco epidemic since the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world’s first international health treaty, was introduced in 2005. Two years later, the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use in low- and middle-income countries was also launched, providing additional resources to countries around the world in implementing proven methods to reduce tobacco use.
The latest WHO report focuses on bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) – one of the most powerful tools countries can adopt to reduce tobacco use. According to the report, as countries have adopted TAPS bans in the past two years, the population protected from tobacco marketing has more than doubled: Today nearly 400 million more people are protected from tobacco industry marketing. Critically, the study found that 99 percent of the people covered by these newly enacted bans are from low- and middle-income countries. This progress comes at a crucial time, as increasingly the burden of tobacco use has shifted to these countries. If current trends persist, tobacco will kill more than 8 million people worldwide annually by the year 2030, with 80 percent of these deaths in low- and middle-income countries.
Bans on all forms of tobacco industry marketing are one of the proven, cost-effective tobacco control policies mandated by the FCTC, which has been ratified by 177 countries around the world. In addition to implementing TAPS bans, the treaty calls on nations to enact comprehensive smoke-free laws; help tobacco users quit; implement large graphic health warnings on tobacco products; and raise tobacco product prices by increasing tobacco taxes.
Other key findings from the study include:
Since 2008, 20 countries have adopted laws requiring strong graphic warning labels on tobacco products, now protecting 657 million people.
Between 2007 and 2012, 32 countries passed complete smoking bans covering all work places, public places and public transportation, protecting nearly 900 million additional people.
While the report underscores the recent global achievements in protecting public health, the study also finds there is still much work to be done. Less than 10 percent of the world’s population is currently covered by a complete TAPS ban and 67 countries do not ban any tobacco industry advertising or promotion activities. These figures mean that billions of people around the world are routinely exposed to tobacco industry marketing campaigns that entice and hook a new generation of tobacco users.
Globally, the tobacco industry spends tens of billions of dollars every year marketing their products in ways that appeal to young people. When countries do not act to protect their citizens, these marketing tactics are all too effective. One-third of youth experimentation with tobacco occurs as a result of exposure to tobacco advertising and every day 80,000 to 100,000 young people around the world become addicted to tobacco. This latest study underscores the urgent need for more countries to adopt the tobacco control measures called for by the FCTC. Unless nations act quickly and decisively to implement these policies, tobacco use will claim one billion lives across the globe this century.