Smoking Tobacco and Cardiovascular Disease
Countries are making sure that they have more smoke-free spaces in order to curb the tobacco epidemic. Photo: Bongani Ngcobo / Unsplash

As tobacco continues to take lives, the World Health Organisation has released a new report which underlines how tobacco control measures like smoke-free spaces have helped in protecting most of the world.

According to the WHO's ninth tobacco epidemic control report, 71 per cent of the world's population now have a tobacco control measure at their disposal, which is five times higher than the 2007 figures. This means 5.6 billion lives are covered by the best practice policy for tobacco control.

The World Health Organisation launched MPOWER tobacco control measures 15 years ago to tackle the menace. Since then, the smoking rates have reduced considerably, making the number of tobacco-smoking people in the world decrease by 300 million.

Smoke-free public spaces to tackle the tobacco epidemic

The new global tobacco epidemic report is developed with the help of Bloomberg Philanthropies who are known to make investments to make peoples' lives better and longer across the world. The organisation works across various domains like Public Health, Environment, Arts, Government Innovation and Education with a presence in 700 cities and 150 countries.

The report focussed on passive smoking or second-hand smoking. As per the report, 40 per cent of countries in the world now have completely smoke-free indoor public places, making it easier for people to protect the public from passive smoking.

The WHO report further illustrates how countries are faring in tobacco control by rating them against the best nations in this department which are model countries.

Brazil and Turkey have set the benchmark in this department as they achieved the best practice level advocated by MPOWER. This year the World Health Organisation has added two more to this coveted list as Mauritius and Netherlands achieved best practice standards.

Countries need to adopt tobacco control measures

Speaking about the matter WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted the importance of evidence-based best practice policies as Mauritius and Netherlands became the first African nation and the first EU nation to attain this status respectively.

Dr Tedros said that the World Health Organisation is ready to support any country which wants to achieve this feat.

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth reiterated the country's commitment towards tobacco control stating that Mauritius will soon become a smoke-free nation.

Netherlands State Secretary for Health & Welfare, Maarten van Ooijen acknowledged the role of Dutch medical professionals, health experts and civil society organisations in achieving full tobacco control in the country.

Maarten said that despite progress, the Netherlands has a long way to go to become a smoke-free nation and the government aims to create a smoke-free generation by 2040.

Smoke-free public spaces help in quitting tobacco

The MPOWER framework of WHO underlines that smoke-free public spaces are one of the primary tobacco control measures. However, there are many more measures that nations can adopt to curb the tobacco epidemic, as mentioned in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The report highlighted how smoke-free public spaces help in reducing passive smoking, ultimately saving lives. Because of these spaces, people can breathe air and are protected from second-hand smoke. It denormalises smoking and helps people to quit smoking and prevents youngsters from taking up vapes.

Annually 1.3 million people die because of passive smoking. Second-hand smoking also increases the risk of cancers like mouth and lung cancers, respiratory problems and type 2 diabetes which could be easily prevented by following tobacco control measures.

The report ascertains how effective tobacco control measures can help in saving billions as healthcare costs reduce and productivity increases. It further illustrates how every country can adopt this whether they are low-income, high income or mid-income

Future work to tackle the tobacco epidemic

Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, blamed the tobacco industry and their marketing campaigns for the tobacco epidemic.

He acknowledged that their work is making a difference and saving lives as showcased in the report.

Presently, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Ireland, Madagascar, Iran, Spain, Mexico and Jordan could attain the same status in tobacco control as Mauritius and Netherlands if they adopt a policy.

However, there's still substantial work to be done as 44 nations remain totally unprotected from any tobacco control measure and 53 countries haven't banned smoking in healthcare facilities. Around 50 per cent of countries in the world have smoke-free workplaces.

The tobacco epidemic takes 8.7 million lives and the only way to tackle this is to adopt MPOWER measures. That's why WHO had urged all countries to implement at least one best practice mentioned in MPOWER.