Tobacco prevention and control

The Tobacco Control team works to help reduce the burden of disease, death, and economic consequences caused by tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke in the Americas Region. Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death in the world today. As tobacco use continues to rise in many parts of the world, it becomes increasingly more important that governments work jointly with civil society to implement the mandates of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to protect their citizens from tobacco and educate them about the dangers associated with its use.

Key facts
  • Smokers lung

    There are 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide.

  • Tobacco kills around 8 million people every year (more than 7 million active smokers and over 1 million non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke), including 1 million in the Americas.

  • The life expectancy of smokers is at least 10 years less than non-smokers.

  • Mortality from tobacco use in the Region accounts for 16% of the deaths from cardiovascular disease, 25% of those from cancer, and more than half (52%) of those from chronic respiratory diseases.

  • Tobacco is the only legal consumer product that kills up to half of its users when used exactly as intended by the manufacturer.

  • Tobacco companies spent over 8 billion dolars in marketing and advertising.

  • Tobacco costs the global economy US$200 billion every year

  • Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life.

Fact sheet

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international public health treaty negotiated under WHO auspices. 

The WHO FCTC contains guidelines and requirements for the implementation of the most cost-effective tobacco control measures available necessary for reducing the smoking epidemic.

Key provisions that parties to the WHO FCTC will be required to implement include:

  • Article 6: Raising taxes on tobacco products.
  • Article 8: Protection from secondhand smoke in all indoor workplaces and public places and in public transportation. 
  • Article 11: Large graphic health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products.
  • Article 13:  A comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion

These measures can be considered the starting point for comprehensive implementation of the Convention.

The treaty also addresses a number of other issues, including the disclosure and regulation of ingredients in tobacco products, sale of tobacco products by or to minors, treatment for tobacco addiction, research and exchange of information among countries and promoting public awareness. 

Download the full text of the treaty.
Official Site: http://www.who.int/fctc/en/

What PAHO does

PAHO aims to accelerate the implementation of the FCTC in the Region, especially the articles that WHO considers “best buys” for NCD prevention and control. Strategic lines of action include:

  1. Implementation of measures for the creation of completely smoke-free environments and the adoption of effective measures on the packaging and labeling of tobacco products as a priority for the Region.
  2. Implementation of a ban on the advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco products and the adoption of measures to reduce their availability.
  3. Ratification of the FCTC and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products by the Member States that have not yet done so.
  4. Strengthening of Member States’ capacity in terms of public health policies to counter attempts at interference by the tobacco industry and those who work to further its interests.
  5. Assist the Member States in the preparation, review, and implementation of tobacco control regulations and policies, regardless of whether they are States Parties to the FCTC.
  6. Promote technical cooperation with and among countries to share best practices and lessons learned.
  7. Strengthen technical cooperation to improve Member States’ capacities to promote policy coherence between trade and public health in the context of tobacco control, to protect health from tobacco industry interference.
  8. Promote partnerships with other international organizations and subregional entities, as well as members of civil society at the national and international levels, for the implementation of this Strategy and Plan of Action.

Mandates and Strategies: Tobacco control

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