Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Key facts and findings relating to the MPOWER package

Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies

  • Good monitoring tracks the extent and evolution of the epidemic and indicates how best to tailor policies.
  • Currently, half of countries – two in three in the developing world – do not have even minimal information about tobacco use.

Protect people from tobacco smoke

  • Every person has a right to breathe air free of tobacco smoke. In addition to protecting the health of non-smokers, smoke-free environments encourage smokers to quit.
  • Evidence from pioneering countries shows that smoke-free laws do not harm businesses and are popular with the public.
  • Permitting smoking in designated areas undermines the benefit of smoke-free environments.
  • Only 5% of the global population is protected by comprehensive national smoke-free legislation.

Offer help to quit tobacco use

  • Among smokers who are aware of the dangers of tobacco, three out of four want to quit. Counseling and medication can double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will succeed.
  • National comprehensive services supporting cessation are available only in 9 countries, representing 5% of the world population.

Warn about the dangers of tobacco use

  • Relatively few tobacco users fully grasp the health dangers. Hard-hitting anti-tobacco ads and graphic pack warnings reduce the number of children who begin smoking and increase the number of smokers who quit.
  • Pictures are more powerful deterrents than words on tobacco packaging warnings, but only 15 countries, representing 6% of the world’s population, mandate pictorial warnings.
  • Just five countries, with 4% of the world's population, meet the highest standards for pack warnings.

Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

  • Widespread advertising falsely associates tobacco with desirable qualities.
  • Studies have found that advertising bans can lower tobacco consumption.
  • Only 5% of the world’s population currently lives in countries with comprehensive national bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • About half the children of the world live in countries that do not ban free distribution of tobacco products.

Raise taxes on tobacco

  • Tobacco taxes are the most effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially among young people and the poor.
  • Increasing tobacco taxes by 10% generally decreases tobacco consumption by 4% in high-income countries and by about 8% in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Tobacco tax increases also increase government revenues.
  • Only four countries, representing 2% of the world's population have tax rates greater than 75% of the retail price.
  • In countries with available information, tobacco tax revenues are more than 500 times higher than spending on tobacco control. In low- and middle-income countries, tobacco tax revenues are more than 9000 and 4000 times higher than spending on tobacco control, respectively.