|Press Release WHO/4
30 January 1999
WHO LAUNCHES PARTNERSHIP WITH THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY TO HELP SMOKERS QUIT
DAVOS. -Calling tobacco a "main risk factor" to health in the next century, World Health Organization Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland announced a major project to help smokers in Europe, Russia and the Central Asian Republics stop smoking in a speech at the World economic Forum.
"By 2020, the burden of disease attributable to tobacco is expected to outweigh that caused by any single other disease," Dr Brundtland said.
The WHO European Partnership Project on Tobacco Dependence is being set up with the objective of reducing tobacco related death and disease among smokers. The Partnership Project, which is open to both private, non-commercial and public sector partners, will support implementation of the key strategic goals of the World Health Organization's Tobacco Free Initiative.
The strength of the Partnership Project lies in the fact that it has brought together three major pharmaceutical companies, Glaxo Wellcome, Novartis Consumer Health and Pharmacia & Upjohn, all manufacturers of treatment products for tobacco dependence, to support a common goal that will have a significant impact on public health. The Project provides a model which can provide a basis for future partnerships with the private sector in other important health areas.
Today, traditional killers, such as lung diseases, diarrhea and birth-related conditions dominate the causes for mortality and disability. WHO calculations show that by year 2020, heart disease, mental depression and road accidents will have taken over as leading causes of death and disability. Tobacco will cause 10% of the world-wide disease burden in 2020, up from 2.6% in 1990. Tobacco products are responsible for 1.2 million deaths (14% of all deaths) each year in WHO's European Region (Including the former Soviet republics).
In her speech Dr Brundtland stressed that improved health has been a critical factor in explaining economic and social development throughout this century.
"Investing in health is sound economics. From being perceived as an unproductive consumer of public budgets, health is now gradually being understood to be a central element of productivity itself"
Placing health at the core of the global development agenda, Dr Brundtland said that it is "a fundamental role for us to assist countries in reforming their health sectors so that they can really cope with (new) trends and challenges.
Dr Brundtland stressed the need for broad partnerships for health.
The European Project on Tobacco Dependence was introduced as an example of such partnerships.
Research shows that unless more effective measures are implemented to help the current 200 million European adult smokers to quit or at least reduce their tobacco consumption, tobacco products will be responsible for 2 million deaths (20% of all deaths) each year by 2020. The World Bank estimates that tobacco products cause an economic loss to the world of at least US$200 billion per year.
Dr Derek Yach, Programme Manager of WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative, says a reduction in tobacco use is the single most important public policy action that countries can undertake for health and economic gain. "However, it is clear that this is not going to be achieved unless policies and programmes are implemented to help current smokers reduce their dependence on tobacco products. There is overwhelming evidence for the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of tobacco dependence treatments," Dr Yach says.
The heads of Pharmacia & Upjohn and Glaxo Wellcome both expressed their appreciation for the joint partnership.
"I'm delighted that Pharmacia & Upjohn is a leader in this ground-breaking action partnership with WHO to combat tobacco dependence," Fred Hassan, Pharmacia & Upjohn's President and Chief Executive Officer says. "Public health threats of this magnitude and urgency require the collaborative efforts of both the public and private sectors if we are to significantly reduce harm in a timely fashion. We hope that this initiative will serve as a model for other such partnerships."
"This partnership with the World Health Organization offers great promise in the effort to reduce tobacco dependence and thus reduce the significant health costs and burden of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths," said Sir Richard Sykes, Chairman, Glaxo Wellcome plc. "As a company, our commitment is to fighting disease. Tobacco dependence is in every sense of the word a disease with major but reversible health implications. Together, we can defeat this disease."
For further information, journalists can contact Press Officer Jon Lidén, Public Relations, WHO, Geneva. Telephone (41 22) 791 3982 Fax (41 22) 791 4858 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, or Franklin Apfel, WHO EURO Regional Office, Copenhagen Telephone (45) 39 17 13 36 Fax (45) 39 17 1880, E-mail: email@example.com, or Mari Mansfield,Public Relations Manager Glaxo Wellcome Telephone:(1 919)483-8582 Fax:(1 919)483-0473 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or David Graham, Director, Product Development, Tobacco Dependence, Pharmacia & Upjohn Telephone (46 42)28 84 31 Fax (46 42) 28 86 25 E-mail: email@example.com, or Anderlyne Canada, Senior Brand Manager, Novartis Consumer Health Telephone (44 1403) 323 932 Fax 1403 323 823 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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