Specialists Call on UN and WHO to Help End Tobacco Use by 2040

Specialists Call on UN and WHO to Help End Tobacco Use by 2040

shutterstock_220940488A group of international specialists in respiratory health are joining efforts to advocate for a phased termination of tobacco selling by 2040, as well as requesting governments to engage in the process by implementing strict policy measures. The opinion was recently stressed in a three-paper series in The Lancet, to commemorate the 10th birthday of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The series entitled “Tobacco-free world” covers a series of articles that tackles the dangers of tobacco use in the world and is meant to commemorate not only the birthday of the WHO convention, but also the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health. The idea is to join efforts and work together in order to create a world free of tobacco products within 25 years, in which only less than 5% of the adult population uses tobacco products.

“The time has come for the world to acknowledge the unacceptability of the damage being done by the tobacco industry and work towards a world essentially free from the legal and illegal sale of tobacco products,” said Robert Beaglehole, DSc of the University of Auckland in a press release, who presented in collaboration with other specialists the series and noted the role of excluding tobacco products during the next 30 years.

The specialists believe that the scenario is not only socially desirable, but also technically feasible, particularly with political support. There are at least three possible scenarios designed, which include maintaining the status quo, completely implementing the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), or implementing a “turbo-charged” initiative with the support of private and public sectors.

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The status quo, however, functions with limited ambition, low political will, and weak financing, while the complete implementation of the FCTC is focused on the decrease of the tobacco demand instead of the decrease in factors like tobacco supply or trade issues, despite its benefits. Currently, the recommended tax levels are applied to less than 10% of the population, and only 15% actually have access to cessation programs.

With regard to the third scenario in which a “turbo-charged” push based on the second scenario of implementing the FCTC, a stronger impulse is needed in order to enable the opposition to the tobacco industry. “A world where tobacco is out of sight, out of mind, and out of fashion — yet not prohibited — is achievable in less than 3 decades from now, but only with full commitments from governments, international agencies, such as UN and WHO, and civil society,” added Beaglehole.

The investigators believe that both the United Nations and the WHO need to establish stronger leadership regarding the initiative and show their support to the cause through political measures. They recommend a high-level meeting of the UN in order to promote the termination of tobacco use as well as secure an international agreement from the WHO.

Tobacco consumption is a great concern in the United States and all over the world, and a recent study revealed that young people who smoke in the country are adopting new and more complex smoking habits and are using at least two types of tobacco products instead of cigarettes alone. The study from the RTI International was published in the journal Pediatrics and analyzed tobacco patterns among the American youth.

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