Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva addresses the 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer

Photo/Geoffrey T Fong

Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of the Convention Secretariat to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control delivered a speech to The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) on Monday 5th December, 2016.

The event is the largest global meeting dedicated to lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies. More than 6,000 researchers, physicians, specialists, nurses, advocates, and patients attended the event.

Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva warned that, “While recognising the important contributions so many of you are making in research and treatment of lung cancer, we neglect at our peril the considerable efforts being made elsewhere by representatives of the tobacco industry. Right now, they employ strategies to sell even more of their regular products around the world while introducing in the market new products such as water pipes and electronic nicotine delivery systems.”

The event is the 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) and was held in Vienna. Another speaker at the event was Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay. He highlighted how the Government of Uruguay won its case in an investor-state dispute brought against it because of its tobacco control policies and settled by the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Addressing the Convention´s impact on global health, Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva told the delegates that it has 180 Parties, covering 90 per cent of the world’s population.

Other important facts were presented to the conference most notably that eighty percent of countries have introduced or strengthened existing tobacco control legislation since becoming Parties to the Convention.

Dr Vera da Costa e Silva also highlighted that the cost of a packet of cigarettes has, on average, increased by 150% in those countries which are Parties since the advent of the Convention nearly 11 years ago. She stated, “Increasing the price of tobacco is the best way to inhibit initiation, particularly for young people, and it helps persuade many others to give up the addiction.”

During her speech Dr Vera da Costa e Silva called on health workers, researchers and academics to help as role models, promoting sound tobacco control measures in their countries and to ensure their premises are tobacco-free.

In concluding her remarks Dr Vera da Costa Silva reminded the conference of the impact of the tobacco epidemic, explaining that in the time it took to deliver the fifteen minute speech approximately 166 people had died of tobacco related illnesses around the world.