Wednesday August 21, 2019

Tobacco Epidemic: WHO Urges Nations to Implement Anti-Tobacco Measures

While this is progress, it is seen as far too little to stop the global tobacco epidemic that each year prematurely kills more than eight million people

0
//
anti-tobacco measures
FILE - A man has his lunch behind a poster demarcating a No-Smoking zone in Singapore. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging nations to implement a series of cost-effective, anti-tobacco measures it says will help their populations quit smoking. A new WHO report found that progress in combating the tobacco epidemic and in reducing demand is being made, but not enough.

A survey found 36 countries have introduced one or more measures aimed at helping people quit smoking. Only Turkey and Brazil have implemented all of WHO’s recommended anti-tobacco measures. These include graphic images on cigarette packages warning of the dangers of smoking, banning tobacco advertising and promotion, and raising taxes on tobacco products.

While this is progress, it is seen as far too little to stop the global tobacco epidemic that each year prematurely kills more than eight million people, 80 percent of them in developing countries.

Program manager of WHO’s tobacco control unit, Vinayak Prasad, accuses the tobacco industry of being devious and finding new ways to hinder progress. He said the industry is reinventing itself in hopes of shedding its bad reputation and regaining legitimacy.

anti-tobacco measures
While this is progress, it is seen as far too little to stop the global tobacco epidemic that each year prematurely kills more than eight million people. Pixabay

“So, that is one of the reasons that many countries are finding it difficult to make progress because the industry has gone into creating new and novel products and pushing the governments to have less regulatory compliances,” he said. “And, that is a problem in all regions of the world.”

Prasad said the tobacco industry has come up with several smoking alternatives it claims are less dangerous than cigarettes. However, he noted the new heated tobacco products are the same as cigarettes, except they do not emit any smoke. He said electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco but do have nicotine — and there is no evidence that e-cigarettes help people quit.

ALSO READ: Report: 21% Girls Face Cyberbullying in 2016-17 than 7% Boys

“The evidence in the U.S., for example, is that they were liberal to open the market for electronic cigarettes for almost like seven, eight years,” he said. “In one stroke, they have seen an increase in youth tobacco in the last three years; where the youth is starting to get to say, ‘Oh, this is safer, this is nice. Let us take it and then move on to tobacco.’ So, it is also a gateway for young people.”

The World Health Organization warns tobacco has a huge health and economic cost. It says cigarettes are the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancers and respiratory diseases. The agency says the cost to the world economy is $1.4 trillion or nearly two percent of global Gross Domestic Product. (VOA)

Next Story

China Excludes Taiwan from Participation in World Health Assembly

WHO estimates it needs $98 million to run its Ebola operation. It is facing a funding shortfall of some $63 million

0
World health assembly
Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, May 20, 2019. VOA

Taiwan is protesting China’s decision to exclude the island from participation in the annual World Health Assembly, calling such action an unjustified political move that could harm global health.

The 72nd session of the World Health Organization’s World Health Assembly takes place May 20-28 in Geneva, Switzerland.

This move is particularly ironic this year, as the theme of the assembly is universal health coverage. Taiwan’s national health system is widely considered one of the best in the world.Taiwan’s minister of health and welfare, Chen Shih-chung, says the island is ready to share its experiences on how to achieve affordable, efficient universal health coverage with the global community.

world health assembly
FILE – Chen Shih-chung, Taiwan’s minister of Health and Welfare, is interviewed by Reuters ahead of the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization in Geneva, May 20, 2017. VOA

“However, under pressure from the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan is currently excluded by WHO from the global health network,” Chen said. “Inviting Taiwan to participate in the WHA would be consistent with WHO’s espousal of health for all.”

The health minister notes Taiwan’s exclusion poses health risks to everyone. Chen says diseases do not stop at borders, and international cooperation is needed to combat epidemics that could spread to every corner of the world.

Chen tells VOA he has written several letters to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to protest Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly. Chen says he has received no response. He says WHO has even rejected Taiwan’s offer for help in combating the Ebola epidemic in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

world health assembly
WHO estimates it needs $98 million to run its Ebola operation. It is facing a funding shortfall of some $63 million. Wikimedia Commons

“Our president announced we would donate $1 million U.S. to combat Ebola; but this donation, even this donation was not accepted by the WHO. So, this is a pity in our situation. We want to do something, but WHO did not accept us to do something for the world,” Chen said.

ALSO READ: Washington Becomes First State to Approve Composting of Human Remains

WHO estimates it needs $98 million to run its Ebola operation. It is facing a funding shortfall of some $63 million.

Despite pressure from China, Taiwan’s officials say they have received support for their bid to join the WHO from a number of countries including the United States, Japan, Germany and Australia. (VOA)