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Over the past decade, The Union's Department of Tobacco Control has focused its work on policies proven to have the greatest population-level impacts for reducing tobacco use. We assist governments and NGOs to implement the World Health Organization's MPOWER, a package of six practical measures designed to help countries implement effective tobacco control, which are projected to avert nearly 7.5 million smoking-attributed deaths by the year 2050.

Below are brief summaries showing the impact of The Union's tobacco control work over the last decade with the latest figures [May 2015] and case studies.

 

Smokefree

The Union has supported 29 countries to adopt or strengthen smokefree legislation providing protection from second-hand smoke to 3.2 billion people

In a triumph for tobacco control – and a dramatic change for the world's most populous country – China is aiming to go smokefree next year. The success of smokefree laws in four major cities –Tianjin, Shanghai, Harbin and Guangzhou – set the stage for the development of national legislation. The Union has been working with the State Council and National Health and Family Planning Commission since 2013, and is now providing technical legal support during development of the national tobacco control law. Without intervention, China's annual smoking-related death toll is estimated to reach three million by 2050.

 

Graphic Health Warnings

The Union has supported 16 countries to adopt or strengthen graphic health warning legislation to warn about the dangers of tobacco use, covering 2.6 billion people

India's strong move to triple the size of graphic health warnings on tobacco packs last year began a regional movement. Now laws in both India and Pakistan require the high-impact warnings to cover 85% of the surface area. Nepal requires 90% coverage. The Union provided the scientific and legal evidence needed to back these trend-setting laws, and the support and technical expertise to withstand the resulting pressure from the tobacco industry. Graphic health warnings provide vital health information in countries with low literacy rates.

 

Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship Bans

The Union has supported 18 countries to adopt or strengthen TAPS legislation protecting 2.3 billion people from exposure to tobacco marketing

Violators of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans face on-the-spot justice from 'mobile courts' in Bangladesh. Illegal displays of tobacco are destroyed and vendors fined by magistrates during random checks by tobacco control taskforces, which involve local government, magistrates, law enforcers and civil society. The Union provided grants and advice on management and infrastructure to support the development of this unique approach. The tobacco industry spends tens of billions of dollars on advertising and promotion each year. In the USA alone, cigarette companies spent $9.17 billion on advertising in 2012.

 

Tobacco Taxes

The Union has supported 11 countries to adopt or strengthen policies to raise tobacco taxes covering 3.8 billion people

Pakistan has increased tobacco taxes to reduce tobacco use and implemented a system that ensures rates rise with inflation. Support for the increase was sparked by a report launched by The Union and partners indicating that raising tobacco taxes could lead 500,000 people to quit cigarettes and increase revenues by 27.2 billion rupees. A Union expert is now assisting Pakistan's tobacco taxation working group, which aims to earmark the new revenues for sustainable tobacco control. The Union has similar economic analyses for 12 countries. Of all measures, raising taxes has the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use.

 

Tobacco Industry Interference

The Union has supported 5 countries to adopt or strengthen FCTC Article 5.3 legislation to prevent industry interference in setting policies, covering 1.6 billion people

The tobacco industry's persistent efforts to derail life-saving policies have been halted by loophole-closing legal reforms in The Philippines. All public officials must sign conflict-of-interest statements; industry representatives are blocked from policymaking debates; and corporate social responsibility donations from the tobacco industry to government have been outlawed. The Union advised The Philippines on anti-corruption policies and provided comprehensive technical advice on implementing what is now the global gold standard for preventing tobacco industry interference, as required by Article 5.3 of the FCTC.

 

Sustainable Tobacco Control

The Union has supported 9 countries to establish an operational model for sustainable funding for tobacco control activities, covering 2 billion people

The future of Vietnam's tobacco control programme has been secured – with a dedicated flow of funding from tobacco tax revenues. Run collaboratively by the ministries of health and finance, the fund's infrastructure includes data sharing between departments and surveillance to monitor disbursement of funds from the new tax system. Union economic experts liaised with both ministries to help finalise the fund's legal and financial mechanisms. The fund provides a foundation for Vietnam to build its tobacco control programme into the future.

 

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