The World Health Organisation says 8.7 people die yearly globally due to tobacco consumption.
The United Nation’s health agency urged countries to implement the Smoke-free public spaces policy also known as MPOWER to reduce demand for tobacco.
In line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the global health body introduced the MPOWER measures in 2008, which are a set of six cost-effective and high-impact measures that help countries reduce the demand for tobacco.
The WHO said smoke-free environments help people breathe clean air, shield the public from deadly second-hand smoke, motivate people to quit smoking and help prevent young people from ever starting to smoke or use e-cigarettes.
The global health body noted that in the past 15 years since MPOWER tobacco control measures were introduced globally, smoking rates have fallen, noting that without this decline, there would be an estimated 300 million more smokers in the world today.
Speaking on a new report on global tobacco control, the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said, “This report on the global tobacco epidemic, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is focused on protecting the public from second-hand smoke, highlighting that almost 40 per cent of countries now have completely smoke-free indoor public places.
“The report rates country progress in tobacco control and shows that two more countries, Mauritius and the Netherlands, have achieved a best-practice level in all MPOWER measures, a feat that only Brazil and Türkiye had accomplished until now.”
“These data show that slowly but surely, more and more people are being protected from the harms of tobacco by WHO’s evidence-based best-practice policies.
“I congratulate Mauritius on becoming the first country in Africa, and the Netherlands on becoming the first in the European Union to implement the full package of WHO tobacco control policies at the highest level. WHO stands ready to support all countries to follow their example and protect their people from this deadly scourge. ”
WHO’s Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases and Injuries, Michael Bloomberg said while smoking rates have been going down since the emergence of MPOWER, tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death in the world.
The founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies attributed the high smoking rates to relentless marketing campaigns by the tobacco industry.
“As the report shows, our work is making a big difference, but much more remains to be done. By helping more countries implement smart policies, backed by public opinion and science, we will be able to improve public health and save millions more lives.
“Around 1.3 million people die from second-hand smoke every year and all of these deaths are entirely preventable, he noted, adding that people exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke are at risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancers”, he said.
Director for Health Promotion, WHO, Dr. Ruediger Krech also said, “WHO urges all countries to put in place all of the MPOWER measures at a best-practice level to fight the tobacco epidemic, which kills 8.7 million people globally.
“MPOWER push back against the tobacco and nicotine industries, who lobby against these public health measures.
“Nevertheless, WHO report highlights that 5.6 billion people, 71 per cent of the world’s population, are now protected with at least one best practice policy to help save lives from deadly tobacco five times more than in 2007.”
The Prime Minister, of the Republic of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, said, “With a strong political commitment, we have made great progress in tobacco control policies in Mauritius. Our country has adopted the MPOWER strategy and is moving resolutely towards a smoke-free country.”
Also speaking, State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sports for the Netherlands, Maarten Ooijen, said, “Civil society organisations, health experts and medical professionals are strong driving forces behind everything that we are achieving about tobacco control in the Netherlands.
“They deserve the primary credit for the praise that our country receives from the WHO. Although we are making progress in reducing smoking prevalence and improving our tobacco control policy, we also still have a long way to go. Together we will keep fighting for a smoke-free generation by 2040.”