7 in 10 people protected by at least one tobacco control measure: WHO

7 in 10 people protected by at least one tobacco control measure: WHO

Every year, tobacco use kills 8.7M people globally

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

GENEVA (AA) - Some 5.6 billion people, accounting for 71% of the global population, are currently safeguarded by at least one best practice policy to prevent tobacco-related deaths, said a report published by World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.

The report on the global tobacco epidemic, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, aims to protect the public from second-hand smoke and draws attention to the fact that nearly 40% of countries worldwide have smoke-free indoor public places.

Citing the report in a statement, WHO said that the global implementation of its MPOWER tobacco control measures in the last 15 years has resulted in a decline in smoking rates.

If this decline had not occurred, there would be around 300 million more smokers worldwide, it added.

The report, which assesses the progress made by countries in tobacco control, found that Mauritius and the Netherlands have now achieved a best-practice level in all MPOWER measures, a distinction previously held only by Brazil and Türkiye.

"These data show that slowly but surely, more and more people are being protected from the harms of tobacco by WHO’s evidence-based best-practice policies," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Ghebreyesus continued: "I congratulate Mauritius on becoming the first country in Africa, and the Netherlands on becoming the first in the European Union to implement the full package of WHO tobacco control policies at the highest level."

- Smoke-free public spaces

Smoke-free public spaces are one of several effective MPOWER policies designed to assist countries in implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and controlling the tobacco epidemic.

"While smoking rates have been going down, tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death in the world – largely due to relentless marketing campaigns by the tobacco industry," said Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases and injuries and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Eight countries need just one more MPOWER policy implementation to join the leaders in tobacco control, the statement said. These countries include Ethiopia, Iran, Ireland, Jordan, Madagascar, Mexico, New Zealand, and Spain.

There is still much work to be done, the report warned, as 44 countries have not implemented any of WHO's MPOWER measures, and 53 countries still lack complete smoking bans in healthcare facilities. However, only about half of the countries have smoke-free private workplaces and restaurants.

"WHO urges all countries to put in place all of the MPOWER measures at best-practice level to fight the tobacco epidemic, which kills 8.7 million people globally, and push back against the tobacco and nicotine industries, who lobby against these public health measures," said Ruediger Krech, WHO's director for health promotion.

Around 1.3 million people die every year as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke, according to the report.

Noting that all these deaths can be avoided entirely, according to the report, individuals exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke are at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, type 2 diabetes, and various types of cancer.

It underlined that all countries, regardless of income levels, can reduce the demand for deadly tobacco, achieve significant victories for public health, and save billions of dollars for economies in healthcare and productivity costs.​​​​​​​

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