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A new report released on 10 july in panama city by the world health organization (who) shows that one-third of the world's population – 2.3 billion people – are now covered by at least one life-saving policy measure to curb tobacco use. This is more than twice the global population covered by a key tobacco control measure when who released their initial report on the global tobacco epidemic report five years ago in 2008.

The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2013 also highlights the long path ahead, with two- thirds of the world's population not provided any form of protection from the tobacco epidemic. Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke remain serious threats to global health, killing nearly 6 million people every year.

The report cites Turkey as the only country in the world which has implemented all MPOWER measures comprehensively. The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) contributed to Turkey's achievement by supporting the Turkish Ministry of Health to enact their smokefree legislation between 2008 and 2010 and by strengthening civil society capacity for monitoring of tobacco control policy implementation.

The measures monitored by WHO and reported on in the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2013 are known as MPOWER measures – with each letter standing for a specific demand-reduction policy that governments can implement in order to protect their citizens from the tobacco epidemic: 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.

177 countries have obliged themselves to implement these and other measures by signing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world's first public health treaty. The Union works with governments and civil society around the world in order to support their efforts to develop and pass legislation that corresponds with these MPOWER measures.

The new report shows that smokefree environments (Protect) are the most commonly established tobacco control measure, with 32 countries having passed comprehensive smoking bans in workplaces, public places and public transport between 2007 and 2012. The Union has supported this achievement across 15 of these countries by providing grants and technical assistance specifically for smokefree policy implementation. The Union is also working sub-nationally in countries that have not yet achieved comprehensive national smokefree legislations, such as China, Indonesia and India.

'This report shows quite clearly the progress that we are making as a global tobacco control community,' said Dr Ehsan Latif, Director of Tobacco Control at The Union. 'Unfortunately, legislating MPOWER policies is not enough because only effective enforcement of the resulting laws will lead to real reductions in the demand for tobacco. Because of this, in addition to supporting governments to develop tobacco control legislation, The Union is currently focusing on developing capacity for enforcing legislation and preventing the tobacco industry interference that often blocks effective implementation.'

'It is impressive to see the accelerated progress that has been possible because of the Bloomberg Initiative,' said José Luis Castro, Interim Executive Director of The Union. 'Continued vigilance to ensure that each of the MPOWER measures is introduced in every country will be essential to truly stem the global tobacco epidemic.'

Download WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2013


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The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office, Edinburgh, registered charity no. SC039880
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