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A decade of ensuring a world free from tobacco-related harms

Press Release – World Health Organisation

MANILA, 27 February 2015 As the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) marks a decade of saving lives, WHO in the Western Pacific Region is urging governments and policy-makers to continue efforts to protect …A decade of ensuring a world free from tobacco-related harms

MANILA, 27 February 2015 – As the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) marks a decade of saving lives, WHO in the Western Pacific Region is urging governments and policy-makers to continue efforts to protect all people from tobacco-related harms.

“As we celebrate the remarkable work of the WHO FCTC over the past 10 years, I encourage everyone to stand strong against pressure from the tobacco industry, so that barriers to new tobacco control legislation can be removed and stronger regulations can be enforced,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

Tobacco epidemic in the Western Pacific Region

Tobacco use is one of the biggest contributors to the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the Western Pacific Region. Of WHO’s six regions, the Western Pacific Region has the most number of smokers, the most male smokers and the fastest increase in tobacco uptake among women and young people. It is estimated that two people die each minute from tobacco-related disease in the Region. The tobacco epidemic threatens to undermine other public health gains and hamper economic growth and development in the Region.

“Different countries are at different stages of fighting the tobacco epidemic and the tobacco industry continues to battle against our successes,” said Dr Shin. “Despite this resistance, smoking rates are falling in more than half of the countries in the Region.”

Member States take decisive actions against tobacco

In December 2012, Australia’s pioneering laws on tobacco plain packaging came into full effect. Since then, all tobacco products must be sold in generic brown packaging with large graphic health warnings. There are no tobacco industry logos, brand imagery, colours or promotional text. Brand and product names are printed in the same small font below hard-hitting warnings depicting the health consequences of smoking.

Other Member States including Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, Kiribati, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Viet Nam, have adopted the use of graphic health warnings, which require tobacco manufacturers to display pictures on cigarette packs showing the harmful effects of smoking.

In 2012, the Philippines signed a law increasing tobacco taxes. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Mongolia, New Zealand, Palau, the Republic of Korea, Solomon Islands and Tonga have also increased excise taxes on tobacco.

In China, the Beijing Municipal Government passed a law making all indoor public places in the city 100% smoke-free from June 2015. A stronger national tobacco control law is being proposed. If adopted, this law will make all indoor and some outdoor public places in China smoke free; ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and require graphic health warnings covering half of all Chinese tobacco packs for the first time. Cambodia and Papua New Guinea are also working to pass stronger and more comprehensive tobacco laws.

The National Health Insurance Service of the Republic of Korea is suing the local tobacco industry for recovery of healthcare costs, the first lawsuit of its kind in the Region. “The impetus created by the lawsuit should be harnessed to strengthen the legislative framework for tobacco control,” said Dr Susan P. Mercado, Director, Division of NCD and Health through the Life-Course for the WHO Western Pacific Region.

In July 2013, the Pacific ministers of health adopted a Tobacco Free Pacific target of less than 5% adult tobacco use for each Pacific island country and area by 2025. WHO is helping Pacific island countries and areas achieve this goal through tobacco-control strategies: raise tobacco taxes; protect people from second-hand smoke; prevent tobacco industry interference; support services to help smokers quit; conduct surveillance to keep the tobacco epidemic in check; and strengthen and enforce tobacco control legislation. Through the Healthy Islands initiative, there are numerous examples of countries and cities in the Pacific that have strengthened tobacco control measures, notably through declaring more smoke-free sites and settings.

In July 2014, New Zealand and WHO launched a four-year project to fight NCDs in Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Tobacco use is one of the four main risk factors of NCDs. The project is also expected to increase support for a tobacco-free Pacific.

ENDS

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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