The recently-appointed director general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said that governments around the world “must waste no time in incorporating all the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control [FCTC] into their national tobacco control programs and policies”.
“They must also clamp down on the illicit tobacco trade, which is exacerbating the global tobacco epidemic and its related health and socioeconomic consequences,” he said in a foreword to the latest WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, which was published yesterday. “Forty Parties are needed for the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, under the WHO FCTC, to come into force. Currently, only a few more Parties are needed for this important step to occur.”
The protocol, which was promoted by the WHO’s previous director general and which was adopted in November 2012, still has not entered into force. At its heart, it calls for the establishment of a tobacco-products tracking-and-tracing system, but a search for ‘tracking and tracing’ in the 135-page report brought up only one oblique reference, in a passage on tax stamps.
In a press note issued alongside the report, which is said to have been ‘made possible by funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies’, the WHO said its latest report had found that more countries had implemented tobacco control policies, ranging from graphic pack warnings and advertising bans to no-smoking areas, though it wasn’t clear what was meant by ‘more’. ‘About 4.7 billion people – 63 percent of the world’s population – are covered by at least one comprehensive tobacco control measure, which has quadrupled since 2007 when only one billion people and 15 percent of the world’s population were covered,’ the press note said. ‘Strategies to implement such policies have saved millions of people from early death.
‘However, the tobacco industry continues to hamper government efforts to fully implement life- and cost-saving interventions…’.
The press note went on to say that FCTC strategies to support the implementation of tobacco-demand reduction-measures, such as the “MPOWER” measures, had, during the past decade, saved millions of people from early death and hundreds of billions of dollars. ‘MPOWER,’ the note said, ‘was established in 2008 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies in-line with the WHO FCTC to:
- monitor tobacco use and prevention policies;
- protect people from tobacco smoke;
- offer help to quit tobacco use;
- warn people about the dangers of tobacco;
- enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; [and]
- raise taxes on tobacco.’
The WHO press note is at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/tobacco-report/en/.
The report is at: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/255874/1/9789241512824-eng.pdf.