Steady progress is being made in rolling out measures to reduce tobacco consumption globally, but more needs to be done, according to a new report on the global tobacco epidemic from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The report finds that more countries have implemented tobacco control policies, ranging from graphic pack warnings and advertising bans to no smoking areas.
About five billion people – 65 per cent of the world’s population – are covered by at least one comprehensive tobacco control measure (MPOWER), which has more than quadrupled since 2007 when only one billion people and 15 per cent of the world’s population were covered.
The report, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, showed that while only 23 countries have implemented cessation support policies at the highest level, 116 more provide fully or partially cost-covered services in some or most health facilities and another 32 offer services but do not cost-cover them, demonstrating a high level of public demand for support to quit.
Tobacco use has also declined proportionately in most countries, but population growth means the total number of people using tobacco has remained stubbornly high. Currently, there are an estimated 1.1 billion smokers, around 80 per cent of whom live in low- and middle-income countries.