|WHO Report Shows Progress on Tobacco Control in the Americas|
More PAHO Member States ratify global tobacco treaty, pass new smoke-free laws
Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2009 (PAHO) - A new report shows that member countries of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) made progress last year in implementing new tobacco control measures that promise to save lives and reduce illnesses for years to come.
Colombia, Guatemala, and Panama were among only seven countries worldwide that implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws last year, according to the newly released Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2009 from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Four countries of the Americas-Nicaragua, Colombia, Costa Rica and Suriname-joined the 168 countries worldwide that have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
This progress during 2008 means that an additional 60 million people in the Americas have protection against the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, and that three-quarters of PAHO Member States have now ratified the FCTC, signalling their intention to begin implementing tobacco control measures recommended by the treaty.
"The wide endorsement of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in our Region shows there is clear political will for making tobacco control more comprehensive and more successful," said PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses. "Tobacco use is the major contributor to heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and other chronic diseases that are now epidemic in our countries. More and more countries recognize that tobacco control is a life-and-death matter."
Tobacco use continues to be the world's leading preventable cause of death, killing more than 5 million people per year globally and 1 million in the Americas. That annual death toll could rise to 8 million by 2030 if action is not taken, the report says. More than 80 percent of those deaths would occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Tobacco control experts say that preventing deaths and illness due to tobacco requires legal and policy frameworks that promote smoke-free environments and reduce demand for tobacco.
The 2009 WHO report describes efforts by different countries to implement a package of tobacco control measures called MPOWER, introduced by WHO in 2008 to help countries meet the goals of the FCTC. The MPOWER package proposes:
The report's other key findings on tobacco control developments in the Americas include:
"You need to have comparable data across different survey periods to accurately monitor and evaluate the impact of different types of interventions," said Dr. Adriana Blanco, PAHO's regional advisor on tobacco control. "Better monitoring could provide critical evidence to bolster the case for stronger tobacco control."
Links of interest:
Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization