WHO Global Tobacco Treaty 12 Years On: What's Been the Impact?

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Countries agreed to implement measures such as tobacco taxes and smoke-free public areas
Countries agreed to implement measures such as tobacco taxes and smoke-free public areas

HealthDay News — After 180 countries agreed to a global tobacco control treaty in 2005, there was a 2.55% decrease in smoking worldwide during the next decade, according to a study published online March 21 in The Lancet Public Health.

All of the participating countries agreed to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Signing countries committed to introducing policies such as high tobacco taxes and smoke-free public spaces. They also agreed to warning labels, advertising bans, and support for smoking cessation services. Geoffrey Fong, PhD, professor of psychology and health studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and colleagues reviewed data from 116 countries that signed the treaty and 10 that didn't. 

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The researchers found that, overall, smoking rates in the 126 countries fell from 24.23% in 2005 to 22.18% in 2015, an average decrease in prevalence of 2.55% points. Smoking rates declined in 90 countries, remained the same in 12 countries, and actually went up in 24 nations. There were much larger reductions in smoking in countries that fully implemented more of the measures in the tobacco control treaty. Overall, each additional measure that was fully implemented was associated with a 1.57% reduction in smoking rates. The most frequently introduced measure was smoke-free public areas. Twenty-eight percent of the countries studied that were part of the treaty had implemented this measure. Only 13% of the countries implemented tobacco advertising bans.

"However, while the progress of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has been remarkable, there are still far too many countries where domestication of the treaty and its implementation has fallen short," Fong said in a journal news release. "One important cause of this is the tobacco industry's influence, particularly in low- and middle-income countries."

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