WHO Report Finds Majority of World… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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WHO Report Finds Majority of World Population Protected by At Least One Life Saving Tobacco Control Measure, Calls for Accelerated Progress

Statement of Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
July 31, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that global tobacco control progress is encouraging, but countries must accelerate their efforts to pass and effectively implement the policies that have been proven to save lives from tobacco use. According to the report, 5.6 billion people – more than 70 percent of the world’s population – are now protected by at least one best practice tobacco control policy. The number of people protected today is five times more than in 2007. Since that time, smoking rates have fallen globally and millions of lives have been saved from the devastating death and disease caused by tobacco use.

The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2023 – a biannual report – analyzes global tobacco control progress against the set of policies outlined by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC is a global public health treaty that obligates countries to implement a set of proven measures to drive down rates of tobacco use including smoke-free public places, bans on tobacco advertising, increased tobacco taxes and warning labels on tobacco products.

This year’s WHO report focuses on further opportunities to protect people from tobacco smoke. While smoke-free policies are favored by the public and are good for businesses, only 25 percent of the world population is completely protected by smoke-free measures in all indoor public places. Urgent action is needed to accelerate progress in protecting people from the dangers of secondhand smoke, a harmful mixture of thousands of chemicals that causes serious disease in even those who do not smoke. More than a million people die from secondhand smoke each year. These deaths are both tragic and entirely preventable.

Around the world, the tobacco industry fights hardest against the measures it knows work to drive down smoking and will impact Big Tobacco’s bottom line. The WHO report highlights that tobacco companies have aggressively challenged smoke-free laws as part of efforts to stall global tobacco control progress.

The report also highlights two new countries – the Netherlands and Mauritius – that have achieved best practice tobacco control policies across all the areas measured by the WHO report. They join Turkey and Brazil as the only four countries in the world to achieve such status. Together, the group shows that regardless of income levels, all countries can take strong action to curb tobacco use and protect the health of their citizens.