News / Health

WHO: Tobacco Control Measures Avert Millions of Deaths

An aerial shot shows tens of thousands of Filipinos form a human no-smoking sign at the Bicol University football field in Legazpi city, Albay province, south of Manila, June 28, 2013.
An aerial shot shows tens of thousands of Filipinos form a human no-smoking sign at the Bicol University football field in Legazpi city, Albay province, south of Manila, June 28, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization reports tobacco control measures can avert millions of deaths. A new WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2013 shows hundreds of millions of non-smokers are less likely to start smoking because of national anti-tobacco campaigns that are reaching three billion people worldwide.

WHO estimates some three billion people globally now are covered by at least one life-saving measure to limit tobacco use. In 2008, WHO identified six tobacco control measures that are the most effective in reducing tobacco-use.

In this year’s report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, WHO focuses on bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, which it considers one of the most powerful measures to control tobacco use. It says the number of people covered by these bans has increased by almost 400 million people living mainly in low-and middle-income countries.

The Director of WHO’s Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases department, Douglas Betcher, said this shows the tobacco industry’s bullying tactics are not working as well as before.

“Doors thank goodness are closing on the industry. So, it means that their bottom line is to sell," he said. "Their bottom line is to get more people hooked and younger people hooked, and they will kill more people.  That is their bottom line. The industry being underhanded…will stop at nothing to get their messages out. So, it’s important that countries ban all forms of advertising, promotion and sponsorship.”

Countries and territories with the highest level of achievement: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Ire
Countries and territories with the highest level of achievement: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Ire
As of today, WHO says 24 countries with 694 million people have introduced complete bans and 100 more countries are close to a complete ban. However, it notes 67 countries do not ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship activities.

WHO reports tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide  It says it kills six million people every year, more than tuberculosis, HIV and malaria combined. It says tobacco can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.

The components of MPOWER

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
  • Protect people from tobacco smoke
  • Offer help to quit tobacco use
  • Warn about the dangers of tobacco
  • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
  • Raise taxes on tobacco

Source: WHO
If current trends continue, WHO warns the number of smoking-related deaths will rise to eight million a year by 2030. Betcher said studies show that WHO’s six-evidence-based tobacco control measures, known as “MPOWER,” are the most effective in reducing tobacco use. 

“The first one is protect people from tobacco smoke-what is measured is complete bans in smoking in all public places, work places, no designated smoking areas," he said. "Always offering help to quit tobacco use…offering free national quit lines to advise people on how to quit and to link that to the health system, to provide also medication support--essential drugs like nicotine-replacement therapy to help people to quit.  Warning people about the dangers of tobacco use. Prominent hard-hitting clear messages with pictorial warnings over 50 percent on packages.” 

Betcher said 41 countries have adopted at least one of the six MPOWER measures as of 2010. He said an estimated 7.4 million lives have been saved during these three years in those countries that have adopted and implemented one of those measures at the highest level.

Case studies show countries including Panama, China, Thailand, Madagascar, Australia, Uruguay, Ghana and Turkey are succeeding in cutting tobacco use.  WHO says it does not take money for countries to get their populations to quit this deadly habit.  It takes political will.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs