World No Tobacco Day

Tobacco control treaty successful, but challenges remain


World No Tobacco Day was marked on 31 May. On this day the WHO celebrates the successes of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in the fight against the epidemic of tobacco use.

However, the WHO points out that challenges remain for the public health treaty to reach its full potential as the world’s most powerful tobacco control tool.

Since it was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2003, 172 countries and the European Union have become Parties to the WHO FCTC. Among other measures, the
Parties are obliged over time to:

- protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke

- ban tobacco advertising and sales to minors

- put large health warnings on packages of tobacco

- ban or limit additives to tobacco products

- increase tobacco taxes

- create a national coordinating mechanism for tobacco control

This year, the tobacco epidemic will kill nearly 6 million people, including some 600,000 non-smokers who will die from exposure to tobacco smoke. By 2030, it could kill 8 million.

In a statement to mark the occasion, Dr Hussein A. Gezairy, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said: “Despite the promising progress that the Region has witnessed since the beginning of the development of the Convention, a more comprehensive approach still needs to be adopted if rapid and sustained reduction in tobacco consumption is to be achieved.”

Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO Director- General, said that the treaty’s ultimate success against the tobacco industry depends on the extent to which the Parties meet all of their obligations.

“More needs to be done for the treaty to achieve its full potential. It is not enough to become a Party to the treaty. Countries must also pass, or strengthen, the necessary implementing legislation and then rigorously enforce it,” she said.

Dr Gezairy said: “The Framework Convention has proved to be more than just an ordinary convention. It has fulfilled its promise, creating a whole new public health era for tobacco control. Its provisions have been trialled, tested and proved effective in many countries, globally and regionally. With the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, we stand the biggest chance of achieving what could be the single largest positive impact on health in this century.”

Many of the Parties have made tremendous strides in implementing the treaty. For example:

- In 2006, Iran banned all types of tobacco advertising

- Australia is in the process of requiring all tobacco products to be in plain, unbranded packs

- Mauritius in 2008 became the first African country to mandate picture warnings on packs

- Ireland in 2004 banned smoking in public places

- Thailand’s tobacco tax increase in 2008 resulted in an overall tax rate equal to 57% of the retail price

- Sri Lanka’s cigarette taxes are equal to 73% of the retail price

- China recently implemented a ban of smoking in public places

- In 2009, Turkey implemented a similar smoking ban

- Uruguay requires health warnings that cover 80% of the surface of tobacco packages

However, much more needs to be done, as the Parties own reports indicate. For example, of the 65 Parties that submitted mandatory reports twice, 40 reported progress in raising tobacco taxes, 39 in making public places smoke-free and 35 in strengthening research and surveillance of tobacco control. One-third to one-half of the 65 Parties reported progress in strengthening health warnings on packages of tobacco, in banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, in helping smokers to quit and in protecting public health policies from tobacco industry interference, among other measures.

Smoker’s cough

UAE respiratory doctors are urging smokers who cough daily for more than two weeks to seek medical advice and a lung function test to check if they have signs of the smokingrelated respiratory disease known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

The warning was issued by the President of the Emirates Allergy and Respiratory Society (EARS) ahead of a meeting in June to discuss new trends in the treatment of COPD.

Predictions by the World Health Organisation say COPD will be the third leading cause of death globally by 2030, behind heart disease and stroke. Globally prevalence of COPD currently sits at between 4% and 6% and about 80% of cases are linked to cigarette smoking, according to the WHO.


ate of upload: 15th Aug 2011


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