Washington, D.C., 8 February 2012 (PAHO/WHO) — A growing number of countries in the Americas are adopting effective measures to reduce consumption of tobacco and exposure to secondhand smoke. But a new report from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) recommends further measures, particularly increases in tobacco taxes and bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.
The new Tobacco Control Report for the Region of the Americas summarizes progress in countries’ implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world’s first international public health treaty, which requires States Parties to apply a series of policies and measures aimed at reducing tobacco consumption and protecting people from secondhand smoke. The treaty has been in force since 2005.
Of 35 countries in the Americas, 29 have ratified the FCTC, most recently, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Kitts and Nevis. Argentina, Cuba, El Salvador, Haiti, and the United States have only signed the treaty, implying they will make good-faith efforts to ratify it and, in the meantime, will not undermine its objectives. The Dominican Republic is the only country in the hemisphere that has neither signed nor ratified the FCTC.
“The wide endorsement of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in our Region shows that there is clear political will for making tobacco control more comprehensive and more successful,” PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses says in the report.
WHO has proposed six main areas of action for implementing the FCTC at the country level:
The report examines both achievements and challenges in the implementation of these measures in the countries of the Americas. Highlights in the report include:
Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year around the globe, as a result of direct consumption or exposure to secondhand smoke. At least 1 million of these deaths occur in the Americas. If current trends continue, the number of tobacco deaths worldwide is projected to climb to 7.5 million annually by 2020. Tobacco use is the single most important risk factor for chronic noncommunicable diseases, which are the leading cause of death worldwide. Tobacco is also the only legal product that kills between a third and half of consumers who use it exactly as intended by the manufacturer.
“Tobacco use is the major contributor to heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and other chronic diseases that are now epidemic in our countries,” PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses says in the report. “More and more countries recognize that tobacco control is a life-and-death matter.”
PAHO was established in 1902 and works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).