The Americas is the first WHO region to host an Executive Tobacco Control Programme with a select group of ten heads of PAHO/WHO country offices

Executive Tobacco Control Programme

Washington, D.C., 1 July 2024 – Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/ World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office Representatives (PWRs) from ten countries of the Americas started today the Executive Programme on Tobacco Control: A Successful Story in Addressing Commercial Drivers of Health. The 2-day meeting at the recently established Bloomberg Center at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. aims to provide a deeper understanding of policies, evidence, and strategies to advance tobacco control efforts and how this can be leveraged to progress other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) risk factors, such as alcohol or unhealthy diet.

As the heads of PAHO/WHO's Country Offices, the PWRs are not just representatives but the organization's ambassadors, public health leaders, and champions at the country level. Their role is crucial in all aspects of public health, engaging with a range of government and non-state actors, including civil society and academia. The Executive Programme has been designed to address the broad and evolving challenges faced by PWRs in their respective countries while centering on tobacco control and commercial determinants of health. This programme aims to develop competencies and skills needed for public health in 2024, using tobacco control as the entry point. They will, in particular, be supported in sharing best practices and approaches for engaging with other branches of the Executive (Finance, Trade, Industry, and Customs) as well as parliamentarians and society in general, including civil society organizations and the media.

Through engaging discussions with global experts convened from around the world, the aim is to generate innovative solutions to advance tobacco control efforts, foster partnerships to accelerate the goal of achieving a tobacco-free future, share successful strategies and experiences from the PAHO region and beyond, and develop actionable strategies to address commercial determinants of health that contribute to NCDs.

The PWRs from the Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Eastern Caribbean Countries, Jamaica, Mexico, and Nicaragua are joined by renowned worldwide experts from WHO technical units, the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, World Bank, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Vital Strategies, Johns Hopkins University, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Georgetown University, Minassian Media and Marathon Strategies.

The challenge of tobacco use, which causes more than 8 million deaths in the world every year, including 1 million in the Americas, is particularly complex given the role of sectors beyond health and the confluence of social, environmental, and commercial determinants of health. Efforts and expertise among partners of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, including PAHO/WHO, have been crucial in the Americas to bring evidence-based policies into the government's actions on tobacco control, ensuring that public health is a development priority.

With the 2030 deadline for achieving Sustainable Development Goal Target 3a to strengthen the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control fast approaching, PAHO/WHO is seizing this opportunity to equip ten heads of PAHO/WHO's Country Offices. This will ensure they can provide the necessary support to countries in advancing the tobacco control agenda.