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Myanmar’s capital city, Nay Pyi Taw, has issued a decree extending the requirements specified by the country’s national tobacco control law and making smokefree legislation more comprehensive in the Nay Pyi Taw region. Smoking is now prohibited in hospitals, clinics, workplaces, children’s playgrounds, education facilities and commercial accommodation.

Under Myanmar’s national Control of Smoking and Consumption of Tobacco Products law, restaurants are required to have designated smoking areas, but other public places, such as tea shops and establishments known as “cold drinks shops”, aren't mentioned at all in the law.

This city level decree, issued by the Nay Pyi Taw Development Committee (NPTDC), is the first of its kind in Myanmar, and is intended to close gaps like these in the national law. Under the decree, all air-conditioned restaurants, tea shops and cold drinks shops must be smokefree, and non-air-conditioned (partially open air) restaurants, tea shops and cold drinks shops can have designated smoking areas, but these must be outside.

Myanmar has a high overall smoking rate of 26.1 percent, with 43.8 percent of adult men and 8.4 percent of adult women who smoke. The Mayor of Nay Pyi Taw said that he hopes that this new decree will protect the city’s one million citizens from tobacco smoke, and will increase public awareness of the dangers of smoking.

An event was held to promote the decree, which was attended by 550 participants including high-level national and subnational government officials, academics and representatives from civil society and the media. At the event, the Minister of Health and Sports praised Nay Pyi Taw’s commitment to curbing the tobacco epidemic: “Tobacco use causes chronic diseases which not only burden the patient but also the family, community and country.” He urged other cities in Myanmar to follow the example set by Nay Pyi Taw.

It is hoped that the collaboration between NPTDC and the Ministry of Health and Sports will lead to stronger enforcement of tobacco control laws in the region. “The Union congratulates Nay Pyi Taw for its commitment to tobacco control,” said Dr Tara Sing Bam, Deputy Director for the Asia Pacific region at The Union. “Subnational leadership plays a key role to fulfil the implementation gaps in tobacco control, and can make each sector accountable to identify local solutions to the local problems.”

The Union provides technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and Sports and Nay Pyi Taw government for tobacco control. Nay Pyi Taw is a member of the Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Tobacco Control and Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention (APCAT), and representatives from Nay Pyi Taw declared their commitment to advance tobacco control in their city at the 4th APCAT Summit in 2019.


The Union congratulates the Government of Mexico for issuing a presidential decree on 19 February 2020 prohibiting the import of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) into the country. The decree sends a clear message that public health should be protected at the highest level, above the commercial interests of the tobacco industry.

Although e-cigarettes have been banned in Mexico since May 2008, this decree puts health and customs regulations in alignment, providing legal certainty on the issue.

The Federal Commission against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), the National Commission against Addictions (CONADIC) and the Ministry of Health declared in a joint public statement that Mexican health authorities do not endorse e-cigarettes or HTPs as lower risk alternatives to smoking or as an effective means to quit smoking – in fact evidence shows that many users of new tobacco products also smoke traditional cigarettes.

“This is a timely measure by the Government of Mexico,” said Dr Gan Quan, Director of Tobacco Control at The Union. “The decree will prevent the tobacco and e-cigarette industry from expanding in the country and addicting more people to nicotine.”

“The Union hopes to see enforcement bodies such as COFEPRIS taking swift action against violations of both the new decree and the existing national ban on e-cigarettes,” said Gustavo Sonora, Regional Director for Latin America at The Union. “It will be important to ensure that illicit sales of e-cigarettes and HTPs are prevented, advertisements removed, and use of the products in public places stopped.”

Tobacco control efforts in Mexico have shown positive results, with the national smoking rate declining from 28 percent in 1990 to 16 percent in 2017. The Union has provided technical assistance to further tobacco control policies in Mexico since 2006, supporting partners to strengthen tobacco policy enforcement and evaluation and to present scientific evidence which promotes tobacco control in each of Mexico’s 32 provinces.

With over 16 million Mexican people still using tobacco as of 2017, The Union will continue to provide support to partners and the Government of Mexico to further implement the policies set out in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to reduce the preventable diseases and early death caused by tobacco.

This article is also available in Spanish/Este artículo también está disponible en español.


Nominations are now being received for The Union Awards, to be presented at the 51st Union World Conference on Lung Health in Seville, Spain.

The awards honour outstanding contributions to lung health and are an important and valued way to recognise the work being conducted across the globe. In Seville we will acknowledge and reward a broad spectrum of exceptional candidates, including health workers, young researchers, lifetime achievers, Union members, and community organisations. Depending on the award, the winners may receive a cash prize and/or a full fellowship/complimentary registration to attend the Union World Conference.

The nomination process is easy, with each participant being able to make multiple nominations for any of the awards below, with the exception of the Union Medal and Honorary Membership, which are for Union members only. Self-nomination is not permitted in any of the categories. More details about each of the awards can be found on The Union website by clicking on the links below or on the nominations page.

Nominations are now open for the following prizes:

The Union Young Investigator Prize: Acknowledges a researcher for work in lung health published in the past five years, when aged 35 years or younger.

The Union Scientific Prize: Acknowledges researchers at any stage of their career for work in lung health published in the past five years.

The Karel Styblo Public Health Prize: Acknowledges a health worker or a community organisation for contributions to tuberculosis (TB) control over a period of ten years or more.

The Stephen Lawn TB-HIV Research Leadership Prize: Acknowledges young researchers conducting promising work focused on reducing the disease burden of TB and HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The Princess Chichibu Global Memorial TB Award: Recognises outstanding contributions to global TB control. Awarded by the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association (JATA). For this award, the call for nominations is for 2021.

The Union Medal– for members only: Awarded to members who have made an outstanding contribution to the control of TB or lung health by their scientific work and/or actions in the field.

Honorary Member– for members only: Granted to a person who has become distinguished through active participation in The Union's activities and the fulfilment of its goals.

The awards will be presented at the 51st Union World Conference on Lung Health to be held from 21-24 October 2020 in Seville, Spain.

Nominations will close on 31 March 2020.

Any queries should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the first four scientific prizes in the list above, and to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for The Union Medal, Honorary Member and Princess Chichibu Award.


The Union congratulates Pakistan for banning tobacco displays at point-of-sale. The legislation was approved on 30 January and has taken immediate effect.

Pakistan has one of the highest burdens of tobacco-related disease in the world, accounting for 110,000 deaths each year according to the Tobacco Atlas. Still, around 1.4 million adults and 125,000 children in the country continue to use tobacco every day.

Displaying tobacco products at point-of-sale is a technique used by the tobacco industry to directly market its products. This increases consumption among smokers and encourages non-smokers and children to take up the habit. Implementing a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising is recommended by the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and is proven to reduce tobacco use.

“Pakistan has progressively improved and strengthened legislation against tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship over the years,” said Dr Fouad Aslam, The Union’s advisor for tobacco control in Pakistan.

“However, banning tobacco displays at point-of-sale has been a neglected area, so this legislation is a huge achievement in progressing tobacco control even further in the country and protecting more people, especially children and adolescents, from exposure to the industry’s harmful products.”

The Union has supported Pakistan’s tobacco control cell to develop and pass this legislation by providing technical assistance under the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use Grants Programme. Now that the legislation has been passed, The Union will continue to support the government to effectively implement the ban.

Supporting lower- and middle- income countries to implement bans on tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship has been a strategic priority area of The Union’s since 2006. Through our work, 4.13 billion people in 28 countries have been impacted by tobacco advertising bans.


The Union congratulates the state of Chhattisgarh in India for banning the sale of loose cigarettes, in an effort to combat tobacco use in the region. Loose cigarettes are sold without any specific health warnings, contravening India’s Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003, which requires all tobacco products to have graphic health warnings.

Around one million people die from tobacco-related diseases in India each year. Chhattisgarh has made good progress on tobacco control in recent years. According to the India Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016, prevalence of tobacco use in the state reduced by 14.1 percentage points, from 53.2 percent in 2010 to 39.1 percent in 2016. However, 7.5 million people continue to use tobacco in Chhattisgarh.

“The Union welcomes this significant action by the Chhattisgarh state government to ban the sale of loose cigarettes,” said Dr Rana J Singh, Deputy Regional Director for South East Asia at The Union. “Achievements like these make a valuable contribution to reducing tobacco-related deaths in Chhattisgarh.”

The Union has supported the Chhattisgarh state government to advance tobacco control for many years. Since October 2018, The Union has supported the state health department to build capacity of stakeholders to enforce legislation, including prohibiting the sale of loose tobacco products and graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging.

The Union also welcomes the recent announcement from the Chhattisgarh Health Minister that the state will take action against smokeless tobacco, which is highly addictive and damaging to health. Smokeless tobacco – especially Gudakhu, a paste made with tobacco, molasses, lime, red soil and water and rubbed over the teeth and gums – is widely used in Chhattisgarh.


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