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On 8 March the world will mark International Women’s Day. This year’s theme ‘gender parity’ is a timely reminder for public health professionals that women in low- and middle-income countries are a prime target for the tobacco industry. Smoking rates amongst this group are as yet comparatively low compared with rates of smoking amongst men, but aggressively targeted marketing aims to increase this figure.

 

The health risks of tobacco use must now be graphically displayed across 75 percent of the front and back of all tobacco packages in Myanmar, after new legislation was announced by the Ministry of Health [MoH] today. The new packaging will feature images of the health consequences of tobacco use across 50 percent of the surface area, and text warnings in local language across 25 percent. Old packaging will be illegal from 1 September 2016.

 

Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, celebrated her country’s progress on tobacco control at the first-ever South East Asian Speakers’ Summit on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, held in Dhaka.

 

Following a protracted legal battle, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has upheld 2014’s law banning all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship – a victory in the campaign to reduce tobacco use. Implementation of this legislation had been delayed after a legal challenge from Philip Morris Pakistan.

 

Long popular in Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East, shisha or water pipes are increasingly popular in other regions – despite the risk for cancer that they pose to both smokers and those exposed to second-hand smoke.

 

A new course on building sustainable funds for tobacco control programmes has been successfully piloted in Bangladesh.The pilot launched the next phase of The Union’s innovative work to help develop sustainable funding mechanisms that are tailored for the legal and financial context of individual countries – the goal being to secure consistent cash flow for programmes to reduce tobacco use in today’s over-burdened health systems.

 

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