Report on Global Tobacco Control Efforts Now in China

2008-10-20 12:03 718

BEIJING, Oct. 20 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Tobacco control advocates in China have a new tool in hand. WHO today released a Chinese edition of "The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic" at a training session for tobacco control officials hosted by the Ministry of Health and the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control.

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The report is the most comprehensive collection of data on tobacco use and control measures ever assembled at the global level. It provides a benchmark for now and a roadmap for the future.

The report also provides a strategy for implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of which China is a party. This implementation strategy is called MPOWER. It sets out a package of five cost-effective policy measures selected because of their proven power to reduce tobacco use. These are straightforward common-sense measures within the reach of every country, regardless of income level.

The six MPOWER strategies are:

-- Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies

-- Protect people from tobacco smoke

-- Offer help to quit tobacco use

-- Warn about the dangers of tobacco

-- Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

-- Raise taxes on tobacco

The standardized country-by-country statistics tell us where China stands on implementing each of the MPOWER elements and where work has yet to be done in areas like package warnings, advertisement bans, taxation, and protection from tobacco smoke.

In the report, which presents the first comprehensive analysis of global tobacco use and control efforts, WHO finds that only 5% of the world's population live in countries that fully protect their population with any one of the key measures that reduce smoking rates.

The report also reveals that governments around the world collect 500 times more money in tobacco taxes each year than they spend on tobacco control efforts. It finds that tobacco taxes, the single most effective strategy, could be significantly increased in nearly all countries, providing a source of sustainable funding to implement and enforce the recommended approach

The report documents the epidemic's shift to the developing world, where 80% of the more than eight million annual tobacco-related deaths projected by 2030 are expected to occur.

This shift, the report says, results from a global tobacco industry strategy to target young people and adults in the developing world, ensuring that millions of people become fatally addicted every year. The targeting of young women in particular is highlighted as one of the "most ominous potential developments of the epidemic's growth".

The global analysis, compiled by WHO with information provided by 179 Member States, gives governments and other groups a baseline from which to monitor efforts to stop the epidemic in the years ahead. The MPOWER package provides countries with a roadmap to help them meet their commitments to the widely embraced global tobacco treaty known as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which came into force in 2005.

WHO is also working with global partners to scale up the help that can be offered to countries to implement the strategies.

Dr Hans Troedsson, WHO Representative in China, said the six MPOWER strategies can guide China in fulfilling its commitments under the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control and form a powerful response to the tobacco epidemic. "This package needs to be adopted and applied in China to stop the needless loss of life, economic losses and human suffering caused by tobacco use," he said.

The English version of the report was launched in February this year by Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Philanthropies helped fund the report.

Source: World Health Organization