WHO’s Director-General flagged three ways to control the tobacco epidemic

19 March 2018

During the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH 2018), Dr Tedros, Director-General of the WHO, opened the plenary with a remarkable speech where he stressed that global tobacco control efforts are gaining accelerated momentum but there is much more work to be done.

Dr Tedros voiced his commitment to work hand in hand with the Convention Secretariat to address key challenges faced by the global tobacco control community.

On top of all the existing tobacco control initiatives and progresses, WHO Director-General indicated three comprehensive ways to win the war on tobacco.

First: focus on accelerating implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, especially in developing countries.

Dr Tedros acknowledged that a great deal of work has been done since the Convention came into force in 2005 but now is the time for countries to fulfil their commitments by accelerating the implementation of the Convention.

Second: eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco products by ratifying the Protocol.

The WHO Director-General emphasized that the illicit trade of tobacco products creates a shadowy market that not only destroys health, but also fuels organized crime and deprives governments of tax revenues. So far, 34 have become Parties to the Protocol and 40 are needed to its entry into force. Dr Tedros urged 6 more countries to ratify it by the 2nd of July this year.

Third: embed tobacco control in efforts to achieve universal health coverage.

Dr Tedros stressed the need to give doctors, nurses and community health workers the information and tools necessary to help people quit, and to provide treatment services for tobacco-related illness. According to the Diretor-General, prevention and care must go hand in hand and if we do not protect people from tobacco now, the costs of health care, and economic losses, will be catastrophic.

The Director-General called for multisectoral approach to protect people from the harms of tobacco that should involve Governments, health professionals, teachers and more.