WHO urges countries to tackle tobacco epidemic

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) Monday urged countries to commit necessary resources to tackle the epidemic of tobacco use, which kills nearly six million people globally every year.

"WHO is urging governments to prioritise tobacco control, seek alternative methods to finance tobacco control and commit necessary human and financial resources to tackle the tobacco epidemic in their countries," said Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO regional director for South-East Asia.

He also asked countries to work on implementing WHO`s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

"This is the only way that the WHO Framework Convention can live up to its promise of protecting present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco," Plianbangchang added.

The FCTC is the world`s first ever global public health treaty developed and adopted under the auspices of the WHO.

Globally, nearly six million people die each year from tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. The annual global death toll from the epidemic of tobacco use could rise to eight million by 2030.

In the WHO South-East Asia region, over 240 million adults smoke tobacco and nearly the same number of adults use smokeless forms of tobacco.

The Framework Convention embraces all elements of tobacco control. It entered into force and became an international law Feb 28, 2005. It is one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in the history of the United Nations in terms of number of signatories, with 172 member states of the WHO being parties to the convention till date.

Explaining the importance of the Framework Convention, Plianbangchang said: "It includes provisions for reducing demand as well as supply of tobacco products. It also recognises the importance of international cooperation and helping low-and middle-income countries to meet their treaty obligations."

In South-East Asia, the countries that are signatories to the WHO Framework Convention are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People`s Republic of Korea, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.


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