WHO reports progress in fight against tobacco epidemic

Many countries are making progress in the fight against tobacco, but a new World Health Organization report shows some are not addressing emerging nicotine and tobacco products and failing to regulate them.

Increased adoption of WHO-recommended tobacco control measures

More than four times as many people are now covered by at least one WHO-recommended tobacco control measure as compared with 2007. The six MPOWER measures are monitoring tobacco use and preventive measures; protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit; warning about the dangers of tobacco; enforcing bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising taxes on tobacco.

Some 5.3 billion people are now covered by at least one of these measures – more than four times the 1 billion who were covered in 2007.

More than half of all countries and half the world’s population are now covered by at least two MPOWER measures at the highest level of achievement. This reflects an increase of 14 countries and almost one billion more people since the last report in 2019.

More than half of the world’s population are exposed to tobacco products with graphic health warnings. However, progress has not been even across all MPOWER measures. Some measures like raising tobacco taxes have been slow to move and 49 countries remain without any MPOWER measures adopted.

Need to tackle threats posed by new nicotine and tobacco products.

For the first time, the 2021 report presents new data on electronic nicotine delivery systems, such as ‘e-cigarettes’. These products are often marketed to children and adolescents by the tobacco and related industries that manufacture them, using thousands of appealing flavours and misleading claims about the products..

WHO is concerned that children who use these products are up to three times more likely to use tobacco products in the future. The Organization recommends governments to implement regulations to stop non-smokers from starting to use them, to prevent renormalization of smoking in the community, and to protect future generations..

“Nicotine is highly addictive. Electronic nicotine delivery systems are harmful, and must be better regulated,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, “Where they are not banned, governments should adopt appropriate policies to protect their populations from the harms of electronic nicotine delivery systems, and to prevent their uptake by children, adolescents and other vulnerable groups.”.

84 countries lack safe-guards to protect from unregulated proliferation of electronic nicotine delivery systems

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