WHO Report Rips World's Stance on Smoking

No country in the world fully implements all key tobacco control measures, the World Health Organization stated in a new report released Feb. 7 at a news conference with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Bloomberg Philanthropies helped fund the report. Calling it the first comprehensive analysis of global tobacco use and control efforts, WHO said it found only 5 percent of the world's population live in countries that fully protect their population with any one of the key measures that reduce smoking rates, and governments collect 500 times more money in tobacco taxes each year than they spend on anti-tobacco efforts.

WHO's recommended approach is a package of six policies called MPOWER:

* Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies

* Protect people from tobacco smoke

* Offer help to quit tobacco use

* Warn about the dangers of tobacco

* Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship

* Raise taxes on tobacco

"While efforts to combat tobacco are gaining momentum, virtually every country needs to do more. These six strategies are within the reach of every country, rich or poor, and when combined as a package, they offer us the best chance of reversing this growing epidemic," said Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, who released the "WHO Report of the Global Tobacco Epidemic" at the news conference. "The report released today is revolutionary," Bloomberg said. "For the first time, we have both a rigorous approach to stop the tobacco epidemic and solid data to hold us all accountable. No country fully implements all of the MPOWER policies, and 80 percent of countries don't fully implement even one policy. While tobacco control measures are sometimes controversial, they save lives, and governments need to step up and do the right thing."

The report also says 80 percent of the more than 8 million annual tobacco-related deaths projected by 2030 are expected to occur in the developing world, which is a shift resulting from a global tobacco industry strategy to target young people and adults there, the report says. WHO compiled it with information provided by 179 member states.

"This [MPOWER] package will create an enabling environment to help current tobacco users quit, protect people from second-hand smoke, and prevent young people from taking up the habit," said Dr. Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative.

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