HeadlinesHealth

WHO Celebrates World No Tobacco Day 2024

This year’s World No Tobacco Day coincides with the 77th World Health Assembly. During the Assembly’s opening session, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus noted that “tobacco use is declining in 150 countries, and there are now 19 million fewer smokers globally than there were two years ago.”

World No Tobacco Day gives us the opportunity to emphasize the dangers of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. 

Today, we reflect on our progress in tobacco control while acknowledging the challenges we face in countering the tobacco industry’s tactics to undermine these efforts.

The theme for this year, “Protecting children from tobacco industry interference,” aims to rally international efforts to protect young people from harmful tobacco and nicotine products and the deceptive marketing strategies used by the tobacco industry.

Read the full details below;

We mark this year’s World No Tobacco Day as the 77th World Health Assembly is being held. In the opening session of the Assembly, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus highlighted that “tobacco use is declining in 150 countries, and there are now 19 million fewer smokers globally than there were two years ago.”

This day provides us the opportunity to continue highlighting the dangers associated with tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. 

Today, we reflect on our progress in tobacco control while recognizing the challenges in our efforts to stop the tactics employed by the tobacco industry to frustrate tobacco control efforts.  

This year’s theme, “Protecting children from tobacco industry interference” is aimed at mobilizing international efforts to shield young people from harmful tobacco and nicotine products and the deceptive strategies often used by the tobacco industry to market their products. 

By this theme, young people across the world have a platform to call out for the tobacco industry to stop targeting them with products that are harmful to their health.

Globally, more than 37 million young people aged between 13 and 15 years are using tobacco. In the African Region, tobacco use among young people aged 13 to 15 years is at 11.1% for boys and 7.2% for girls, which is about 7 million tobacco users. 

An estimated 1.3 million people die from second-hand smoke every year. These deaths are entirely preventable. People exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke are at risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancers.

As part of efforts to protect people, especially young people, from tobacco industry interference, we support our Member States in the African Region to sustain a consistent momentum in tobacco control by pushing for robust tobacco regulations, stringent controls on marketing strategies for new and emerging tobacco and nicotine products which are often designed to attract young people.

Due to our efforts, 45 countries in the African region have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, WHO FCTC, and 22 have ratified the protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products. Twenty-two countries have adopted new tobacco control laws that have enabled them to implement the provisions of the tobacco control framework effectively. These national legislations have resulted in accelerated implementation of the WHO FCTC in more than 35 countries and contributed significantly to the downward trends in the prevalence of tobacco use in the region.

In addition, the prevalence of tobacco use among adults in the region has declined from 14.9% in 2010 to 9.5% in 2023. The 2023 WHO Global Report on Trends has shown that 22 countries in the African region are on track to achieve a 30% reduction by the year 2025 relative to 2010 rates1. In an innovative measure to counter increasing tobacco leaf production, WHO and other UN agencies and governments have supported over 5000 tobacco farmers in Kenya and Zambia to switch to alternative crops.  

We know that young people in the region are exposed to tobacco products through extensive social media and streaming platform campaigns, as well as the use of social media influencers to promote tobacco products to the youth covertly. This poses a significant threat to their health and well-being. 

We also know that the tobacco industry isn’t just in the business of producing, marketing, and selling tobacco products. It also spends considerable time and funds promoting misleading science, lobbying, and performing so-called corporate social responsibility activities. These tactics are meant to attract young people and to influence policies to favor its commercial interests over public health.

As tobacco use continues to decline among adults, the tobacco industry has diversified its arsenal to attack and subvert any strong tobacco control efforts and has been trying to grow its portfolio, adding new markets for tobacco and nicotine products. The industry uses marketing strategies for new products specially designed to appeal to youth, such as e-cigarettes, flavoured products, smokeless tobacco, snus, and pouches that are aggressively promoted through social media.  

This shows that more efforts are still needed to stop the tobacco industry’s relentless efforts to market its products to young people. 

As WHO, we continue working closely with governments to address the barriers to effective response and speed up the momentum to protect Africa’s young people from tobacco use.

I urge our Member States in the African Region to step up their efforts to protect young people from tobacco industry interference by:  

  1. Ensuring governments honor and abide by their obligations under WHO FCTC Article 5.3 by introducing safeguards to protect tobacco-control policy from tobacco industry interference.
  2. Countering tobacco industry tactics through evidence-based arguments and best practices with full involvement of civil society organizations.
  3. Raising awareness among the public on the tactics of the tobacco industry; and
  4. Exposing industry efforts to target youth and attract generations of people with addiction through innovative approaches, including marketing new and emerging products and using flavours.

As an organization, we encourage countries to accelerate their implementation of the WHO FCTC with stringent measures on marketing new and emerging tobacco and nicotine products, particularly designed to appeal to youth. These include shisha, e-cigarettes (flavored products), nicotine pouches, and others that are aggressively promoted through social media platforms. 

Countries should implement and enforce a 100% ban on public smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes (vaping), apply excise tax and price measures to reduce tobacco consumption and implement effective measures to communicate health risks through graphic health warnings to populations, including children and youth.

I encourage all our partners, including other UN agencies, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, academia, and communities, to raise awareness about the risks of tobacco use and to support strong measures that shield the African youth from the harm of tobacco products—and deceptive advertising practices of the tobacco industry.

Advertisements

Follow Lagos Post Online Channel on WhatsApp:

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker