Fact Sheet No 224
TOBACCO WHAT GOVERNMENTS CAN DO - LEGISLATE AND EDUCATE
The spectacular rise and spread of tobacco consumption world-wide is a challenge and opportunity for the Member States of the World Health Organization. Through national policies, governments have a key role to play in controlling tobacco as effectively as possible.
WHO recommends comprehensive tobacco control strategies, with strong emphasis on legislation and education. Reducing tobacco's harmful effects requires governments to legislate and educate. There is a need for urgent national and international action to restrict the spread of tobacco use.
Tobacco kills four million people a year, one death every eight seconds. If current trends remain unchecked, tobacco will also eventually kill 250 million children alive today. This death toll is avoidable Tobacco control must come from all sectors of society, from economic, health and social sectors.
Effective policies and interventions can make a real difference to tobacco use and associated health outcomes. The combined impact of legislation, increased tax and comprehensive community-based strategies has steadily decreased tobacco consumption in many developed countries. Early indications from developing countries that have adopted a similar mix of interventions suggest that they too will be effective.
Examples of successful legislation can be found: New Zealand adopted comprehensive tobacco control policies in 1990. By 1996 tobacco consumption per capita among young adults (15+) had dropped by 21%. Thailand introduced comprehensive tobacco control policies in 1992. Smoking prevalence among young Thai adults aged 15-19 dropped for 12.1% to 9.5%, a decline of over one-fifth. Thailand also registered substantial decreases in adult smoking prevalence from 1991 to 1996.
WHO recommends some key actions that governments could undertake to create comprehensive national tobacco control programmes:
For further information, journalists can contact:
WHO Press Spokesperson and Coordinator, Spokesperson's Office,
WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland / Tel +41 22 791 4458/2599 / Fax +41 22 791 4858 / e-Mail: email@example.com