New WHO report: Effective tobacco controls protect more than 60% of world’s population

20 July, 2017- Suva, Fiji- Six in 10 people worldwide are protected by a range of best practice tobacco control measures – quadruple that of a decade ago – but tobacco industry interference continues to hamper government efforts to fully implement life- and cost-saving tobacco control interventions, according to the new WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2017

Today, 4.6 billion people (63% of the world’s population) are protected by at least one best practice tobacco control measure, 3.6 billion more than in 2007, according to the report. Such progress has been made possible by intensified government action to implement key measures of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

“The WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic is testament to the remarkable progress many countries have made to reduce tobacco use and thereby cut the risk of people developing cancers, and heart and lung diseases,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “More than half of the top performers are low- and middle-income countries, showing that progress in tobacco control is possible regardless of economic status.”

A smoke-free public place in Samoa in 2017

In the Pacific, tobacco control efforts are leading to positive gains for public health and economies.

“In the last decade, several Pacific islands have experienced a significant reduction in adult and youth tobacco use,” says Dr Corinne Capuano, WHO Representative to the South Pacific and Director of Pacific Technical Support.”

Speaking about progress in the Pacific islands, Dr Capuano added, “Many have implemented key components of the WHO FCTC such as prohibiting smoking in indoor public places, implementing health warnings on tobacco products, and prohibiting tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. However, several countries have faced tobacco industry interference against their public health efforts. WHO is committed to supporting the Pacific islands with strengthening tobacco control measures including those aimed at preventing tobacco industry interference.”

Strategies to support reduction in demand for tobacco such as the “MPOWER” measures, have averted potentially millions of deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars in the past decade. MPOWER was established in 2008 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies in line with the WHO FCTC – one for each letter of the MPOWER acronym – to beat the tobacco epidemic, namely 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.

Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide, killing over 7 million people each year. Its economic costs are also enormous, totalling more than US$1.4 trillion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

More information contact:

Dr Ada Moadsiri
Technical Officer, Noncommunicable diseases