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Dr Adriana Blanco has been appointed as the new Head of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) Secretariat, effective from 1 March 2020.

Dr Blanco will take over from Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, who has led the FCTC Secretariat since June 2014. Dr da Costa e Silva actively participated in the negotiations for the WHO FCTC and has worked tirelessly to promote and progress the evidence-based tobacco control measures in the FCTC.

The WHO FCTC is an international, evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. It provides a set of practical measures that are proven to reduce tobacco use, such as increasing tobacco taxation and banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Tobacco use causes eight million deaths around the world, 80 percent of which occur in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where tobacco control policies tend to be weaker.

“One of the challenges facing the implementation of the FCTC is the tobacco industry’s attempts to undermine tobacco control measures which threaten the industry’s existence and profits,” said Dr Gan Quan, Director of Tobacco Control at The Union.

With the emergence of new nicotine and tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, the tobacco industry is re-branding itself as part of the solution to the tobacco epidemic, while continuing to aggressively market its traditional tobacco products around the world.

Dr Gan Quan said: “It is important that the tobacco industry is not able to distract from or derail the implementation of the evidence-based measures of the FCTC, which is the most effective way to reduce tobacco use and prevent the unnecessary death and suffering it causes.”

Since 2006, The Union has co-managed the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use Grants Program in partnership with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The programme awards funds to projects delivering high-impact tobacco control interventions, based on the WHO FCTC, in LMICs. To date, 1060 grants worth over US$175 million have been awarded.

The Union looks forward to continuing our work with the FCTC Secretariat under the new leadership of Dr Blanco, to support LMICs to implement the measures in the WHO FCTC and protect the right to health of billions of people.

 

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