WHO Issues New Guidance on Tobacco Regulation

Dr. Vinayak Prasad, who leads WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative, said the failure to regulate "represents a missed opportunity as tobacco product regulation, in the context of comprehensive control, is a valuable tool that complements other tried and tested tobacco control interventions, such as raising taxes and ensuring smoke-free environments."

The World Health Organization has issued new guidance on the role tobacco product regulation can play to reduce the demand for tobacco, which will save lives and raise revenues for health services to treat tobacco-related diseases. The guide, "Tobacco product regulation: Building laboratory testing capacity," and a collection of country approaches to regulation of menthol were released at the 2018 World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, South Africa.

Many countries have developed advanced policies to reduce the demand for tobacco, which kills more than 7 million people annually, but governments can do much more to implement regulations to control tobacco use, according to WHO officials.

"The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global treaty established under the auspices of the WHO to combat the tobacco epidemic, has played a critical role in tobacco control," said Dr. Douglas Bettcher, WHO's director of the Department for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases. "The launch of these important publications will further aid the implementation of Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO FCTC, contributing to building tobacco product regulation capacity in WHO Member States. Tobacco product regulation is an under-utilized tool which has a critical role to play in reducing tobacco use. The tobacco industry has enjoyed years of little or no regulation, mainly due to the complexity of tobacco product regulation and lack of appropriate guidance in this area. These new tools provide a useful resource to countries to either introduce or improve existing tobacco product regulation provisions and end the tobacco industry 'reign.'"

He said just a few countries currently regulate the contents, design features, and emissions of tobacco products, which means tobacco products are one of the few openly available consumer products that are virtually unregulated in this way.

Dr. Vinayak Prasad, who leads WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative, said the failure to regulate "represents a missed opportunity as tobacco product regulation, in the context of comprehensive control, is a valuable tool that complements other tried and tested tobacco control interventions, such as raising taxes and ensuring smoke-free environments."

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