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At the 70th World Health Assembly today Member States voted to introduce mechanisms for the strengthening of synergies between the World Health Assembly and the Conference of Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. As part of the discussion at the Assembly, The Union read the following statement:

‘The Union and the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations welcome the decision to introduce mechanisms for strengthening of synergies between the World Health Assembly and the Conference of Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (agenda item 15.7). Greater collaboration between these two bodies will facilitate and expedite progress towards halting the global tobacco epidemic.

Noting that tobacco-related deaths have risen to 7.2 million each year, and that global costs of tobacco use to society now exceed US $1 trillion each year, we emphasise that tobacco is a significant threat to development.

We call attention to the fact that the tobacco epidemic is not a health issue only – it is an economic issue, a human rights issue, an environmental issue – a development issue.
As such, we urge ministries of health to engage with colleagues in ministries of finance, trade and agriculture to mobilise and work together on tobacco control and halt this global health catastrophe.

The message is clear: protecting and promoting the health of this, and future generations, is irreconcilable with protecting and promoting the interests of the tobacco industry.

At present two core areas of tobacco control are poorly implemented almost world over: increasing tobacco tax and holding the industry to account. Tobacco tax is the highest impact measure for reducing tobacco use, and holding the industry to account shines a light on their toxic activities and ensures punitive action is taken.

Properly implemented, internationally, these policies will help change the course of history. SDG 3 – to reduce non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030 will be within reach.

The Union and the IFMSA call on WHA member states to endorse the decision, which will track, and inspire, advances in global tobacco control -- to protect and promote the health of this, and future, generations.’

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