27 February, 2015, Cairo, Egypt – 10 years have passed since the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the world’s first ever public health treaty, entered into force, and yet today, tobacco continues to pose a real threat to public health with nearly six million people dying every year from direct tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke.
“WHO is calling on governments, civil society groups and the general public to renew their commitment to tobacco control,” says Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. “It is crucial that we continue working together, to protect our present and future generations from the health, social, environmental and economic impacts of tobacco”.
WHO data indicate that tobacco use in many countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region is very high, with up to 36% of adolescents (13–15 years) and 32% of adults (15 years and older) using tobacco.
Tobacco use also represents a serious challenge to ongoing efforts to prevent noncommunicable diseases in many countries. Noncommunicable diseases, mainly heart disease, stroke, cancers, chronic lung disease and diabetes, are the leading cause of premature death in countries of the Region, responsible for over 57% of all deaths. Two-thirds of these premature deaths are linked to exposure to common risk factors, including tobacco use.
Steps are being taken by Parties to the WHO FCTC – which represent over 90% of countries in the Region – to control the tobacco epidemic. More than 85% have banned most/all forms of tobacco advertising, nearly 60% offer some form of cessation services, almost 50% have health warnings on tobacco product packs, and more than 40% enforce taxes on tobacco products.
Dr Alwan concludes: “Today, we need to double our efforts in combating tobacco use on all fronts and reducing the preventable death and disease associated with it”.
About the WHO FCTC
The WHO FCTC is a landmark in global public health. It is a legally binding treaty that commits its Parties to developing and implementing a series of evidence-based tobacco control measures.
The WHO FCTC came into force on 27 February 2005. It is one of the most widely embraced treaties in United Nations history with over 170 countries becoming Parties to the Convention covering nearly 90% of the world’s population. The Parties to the treaty include over 90% of the Member States of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region. For more information, please visit http://www.who.int/fctc/en/.
To learn more about tobacco control, please contact:
Dr Fatimah El Awa
Regional Adviser for WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative
Office: (202) 227-6534
Fax: (202) 227-65401