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The government of El Salvador has launched a two-year collaboration with The Union to step up its implementation of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The strategic partnership aims to expedite reductions in tobacco use by developing a national tobacco control policy, strengthening tobacco control legislation, and promoting tobacco tax reform.

The launch was attended by senior government officials and representatives from the Pan American Health Organization. Minister of Health, Violeta Menjíbar, highlighted the importance of The Union’s support to El Salvador as it takes this next critical step towards WHO FCTC compliance. Specific policies slated for development are 100 percent smoke-free environments, a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, including point-of-sale displays and higher tobacco taxes. The government also aims to ratify the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in 2018.

El Salvador has made significant advances in tobacco control in recent years – ratifying the WHO FCTC in 2014 and enacting a tobacco control law in 2015. The country was selected for the FCTC 2030 project – an initiative launched last year to support 15 countries to step up implementation of the WHO FCTC – and so accelerate progress toward meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal on health.

“El Salvador is an example to other countries in the region,” said Mirta Molinari, Director of The Union’s Mexico Office and Tobacco Control Coordinator for Latin America. “Recognising that the WHO FCTC is the key to reducing non-communicable diseases and to making significant progress on the SDGs, the government has thrown its weight behind these life-saving public health policies. Generations to come will have improved health prospects – and economic prospects – as a result.”

The Union provides technical, financial, and legal support through a two-year grant from the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use with the Solidarity Fund for Health (FOSALUD), a government health agency that leads tobacco control policy in El Salvador.

Jorge Laucirica, The Union’s technical advisor on tobacco control for The Union in Latin America and Gustavo Sóñora, The Union’s legal advisor for tobacco control in the region, participated in the launch, and took part in several multi-stakeholder sessions to start developing a national policy and legal framework for tobacco control in El Salvador. Preliminary policy documents will be available for public consultation in February 2018.

Results from the 2015 Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) in El Salvador were released during the launch event. They revealed that rates of tobacco use among 13 – 15 year-olds had remained stable since the last survey in 2009. However, tobacco use among girls is much higher than among adult women – 10.7 percent as compared to just over 2 percent.

 

 

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