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31 May 2014 saw Union offices and grantees across the globe recognising and celebrating recent developments in tobacco control. Many also used the day to raise public awareness of the dangers of tobacco use and to build political support for the legislation and enforcement strategies needed to protect public health. Media coverage of these events was outstanding. Following is a summary of highlights – many other excellent events also took place.

ASIA PACIFIC

CHINA
The National Health and Family Planning Commission (formerly Ministry of Health) held a tobacco control advocacy event in Beijing on 28 May. It was attended by government officials, media, tobacco control advocates and public health experts. The Commission's deputy director general, Cui Li, said she planned to work in partnership with other ministries to strengthen tobacco control nationally.

China's Centre for Disease Control ran a training on smokefree government buildings in Wuhan. 150 delegates attended, and many more joined through video conferencing.

The Union was represented at the Asia Pacific Healthy Breath expo held in Guangzhou. More than 100 lung health experts, including The Union's deputy executive director Prabodh Bhambal, attended the opening ceremony. Amongst the 100,000 expo visitors were Guangzhou officials, academics, smokefree law enforcement officers and NGOs. A tobacco control summit forum was also held to discuss FCTC implementation, the benefits of smokefree environments and the role of mass media in tobacco control.

Shenzhen marked its first WNTD as a smokefree city with a launch event for 1,000 volunteer tobacco control inspectors, and an awareness-raising campaign including TV, mobile and radio adverts on second-hand smoke.

The cities of Lanzhou, Tianjin, Harbin and Jinan all held events promoting smokefree environments and launched high-impact mass media campaigns on the dangers of tobacco use.

INDONESIA
Indonesia held its first Tobacco or Health Conference in Jakarta on 29-31 May. The theme was 'Tobacco Control – Saves Lives and Saves Money'. It was attended by 392 delegates from 28 provinces, including government officials, academics, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), human rights activists, students and the media. The conference ended with a formal declaration drawn up by participants, outlining the scale of Indonesia's tobacco epidemic, and a list of demands on the government, including the fundamental requirement that the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC ) be adopted.

Additional events included a talk show featuring the Minister of Health discussing tobacco tax; a meeting of 60 mayors working to build sub-national support and political commitment for tobacco control; and a seminar on the relationship between tobacco control and human rights run by the National Commission on Human Rights.

SOUTH-EAST ASIA

BANGLADESH
The National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) organised a rally in Dhaka, highlighting the importance of tax rises as part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy. It culminated with a speech from the Health Minister. Similar events were held in all 64 districts of Bangladesh, also coordinated by NTCC.

INDIA
The Union's newly published guide, 'Assessing Compliance with Smoke-Free Laws' 2nd edition, was launched by Ministries of Health in six states: Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar,Mizoram and Uttarakhand. These events were attended by public health practitioners and researchers.

In Jammu and Kashmir, The Union's work was officially recognised by the state's Governor HE Shri NN Vohra at a workshop for stakeholders in tobacco control. It was attended by civil society and the media. A new guide to assist health workers with clients who smoke was released in Urdu by The Union at the same event.

More than 80 jurisdictions across the country ran awareness-raising campaigns and workshops promoting tobacco control, based on recommendations made by India's Ministry of Health.

PAKISTAN
A new report on the economics of tobacco taxation in Pakistan, published by The Union, was launched at an event in Islamabad. The report showed that simplifying the tobacco tax structure, and making strategic increases, would lead to 500,000 people quitting cigarettes and raise tax revenues by 27.2 billion rupees. The event was attended by media specialising in economics, technical experts from government ministries, public health advocates and civil society.

LATIN AMERICA

BRAZIL
A decree banning smoking in public spaces and restricting tobacco advertising was published on World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), and officially announced by the Minister of Health, Dr. Arthur Chioro. The new regulation will come into force 180 days after its publication, to allow for the proper law enforcement strategies to be built. The Union has played a critical role promoting the passage of this legislation, since it was first drafted in 2011.

Key elements of the new law include a ban on designated smoking areas; a full ban on advertising, including point of sale; and graphic health warnings covering 30 percent of the front of tobacco packsand 100 percent of the back.

CHILE
The Ministry of Health announced an extension of smokefree legislation to cover all zones of hospitals and health care facilities in Chile. The ban now covers the outside areas of these premises.The Union's Executive Director, José Luis Castro, attended the official announcement of the legislation -- an event hosted by the Undersecretary of Health, Jaime Burrows, at a hospital in Santiago.

A new guide published by The Union was also launched on this occasion, a 2nd edition of 'Assessing Compliance with Smoke-Free Laws'.

MEXICO
The Ministry of Health of Morelos state held a three-day workshop, with support from The Union, on 'Health Legislation for Protection from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, in the South-East Region of Mexico'. It was attended by representatives of health ministries and congress from 10 additional states in the region. Its purpose was to develop comprehensive smokefree legislation for this part of Mexico. Seven states committed to developing and implementing 100 percent smokefree parks, stadiums, entertainment venues and civic spaces, while three committed to reform existing legislation to bring it into line with FCTC guidelines. Draft legislation will be submitted on 21 June 2014. When they come into force, the new laws will protect 33.5 million citizens of South-East Mexico from tobacco smoke.

EUROPE

RUSSIA
The Union co-organised and co-sponsored a national conference with the Ministry of Health (MoH) titled 'Public Health Professionals and Russian Cities Against Tobacco Smoke' during the week preceding WNTD. Its purpose was to consolidate preparations for the extended national tobacco control legislation, which came into force on 1 June . It was attended by MoH officials, public health organisations and 60 heads of Russian Healthy Cities Associations. Key officials and researchers spoke. The conference concluded with commitment to implement regional and city-level smokefree enforcement, and to increase inter-agency coordination. Under the new legislation bars, restaurants, hotels and long-distance trains must be smokefree.

Events were also held in Krasnoyarsk, Arkhangelsk, Sochi and Samara. The focus was on training, sharing experience and best practices for smokefree implementation and enforcement.

AFRICA

CHAD
The Union ran workshops on tobacco taxation for members of Chad's Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health and the media, explaining how strategic tax increases can be used to promote public health. Union technical advisors then attended a press conference with these members, along with representatives from the World Health Organization and civil society. In the lead up to WNTD, The Union also ran a workshop for schoolchildren on how the tobacco industry targe

 

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