More than 70% of the world’s population—5.6 billion people—live in a country that has a formal best practice tobacco control policy, a fivefold increase since 2007, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The organization published its findings from the Ninth Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic in Lancet Oncology.
Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of cancer around the world. The WHO report summarizes each nation’s progress toward implementing the MPOWER demand reduction measures that WHO said are proven to reduce tobacco use:
- Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies, using data to advocate for change.
- Protect people from tobacco smoke by creating completely smoke-free indoor public places through smoke-free legislation.
- Offer help to quit tobacco use. WHO reported that “brief advice from health professionals can increase quitting success rates by up to 30%, while intensive advice increases the chance of quitting by 84%.”
- Warn people about the dangers of tobacco with clear labels on tobacco product packaging that use graphic imaging.
- Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does in the United States through the authority given to the Center for Tobacco Products.
- Raise taxes on tobacco and implement other best practices for tobacco taxation policies.
For example, “almost 40% of countries now have completely smoke-free indoor public places,” WHO reported. It also said that Mauritius and the Netherlands have joined Brazil and Turkey as the only four countries to achieve best-practice level in all six MPOWER measures.
“These data show that slowly but surely, more and more people are being protected from the harms of tobacco by WHO’s evidence-based best-practice policies,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said. “I congratulate Mauritius on becoming the first country in Africa and the Netherlands on becoming the first in the European Union to implement the full package of WHO tobacco control policies at the highest level. WHO stands ready to support all countries to follow their example and protect their people from this deadly scourge.”