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Could the world be smoke-free by 2040? ‘Turbocharged’ global campaign to ban the sale of tobacco could save one billion lives, experts say

Lizzie Parry
stop smoking
  • Sale of tobacco should be phased out in the next 25 years, experts say
  • Claim one billion deaths could be averted by the end of the century
  • United Nations should take a lead role in the ‘turbocharged’ campaign

Experts have called for a ‘turbocharged’ campaign to rid the world of tobacco by 2040

Leading experts have called for a ‘turbocharged’ global campaign to make the world tobacco free by 2040.

The sale of tobacco should be phased out within the next 25 years, leading public health researchers have today said.

They claim one billion deaths from smoking could be averted by the end of the century, if action is taken now.

But a global campaign will only work with the support of governments as well as with stronger evidence-based action against the tobacco industry, they warn.

Professors Robert Beaglehole and Ruth Bonita, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand have called on the United Nations to lead efforts against the sale and consumption of tobacco.

They warn that despite the decline of smoking in the developed world, tobacco use is expected to increase in some countries over the next decade, notably in Africa and the Middle East.

With global population rising, there could still be more than a billion people smoking in 2025 unless urgent action is taken, it is claimed.

The call to arms in the fight against smoking comes in a series of articles published in the Lancet medical journal and will be launched at the World Conference on Tobacco and Health being held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Professor Beaglehole, said: ‘The time has come for the world to acknowledge the unacceptability of the damage being done by the tobacco industry and work towards a world essentially free from the legal and illegal sale of tobacco products.

‘A world where tobacco is out of sight, out of mind, and out of fashion – yet not prohibited – is achievable in less than three decades from now, but only with full commitment from governments, international agencies, such as UN and WHO (World Health Organisation), and civil society.’

Global tobacco regulation should be ‘turbocharged’, with the United Nations taking a leading role in efforts to eliminate the sale and use of tobacco.

The experts pointed out that falling demand for tobacco in rich parts of the world had caused the ‘big four’ tobacco companies to turn their attention to low and middle-income countries.

Their alleged tactics included industrial litigation, lobbying through third-party groups, and covert maintenance of political pressure disguised as ‘corporate social responsibility’.

Professor Anna Gilmore, another of the authors from the University of Bath, said: ‘Contrary to industry claims, tobacco marketing deliberately targets women and young people.

‘The tobacco industry continues to interfere with governments’ efforts to implement effective tobacco control policies.

‘If the world is to become tobacco free, it’s vital that the industry’s appalling conduct receives far closer scrutiny and countries which stand up to the industry’s bullying tactics receive better global support.’

A decade on from the WHO’s landmark introduction of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), just 15 per cent of the world’s population have adequate access to smoking cessation services.

Moreover, less than one in 10 people across the world are covered by tobacco taxation at levels recommended by the FCTC.

The experts led by Professors Robert Beaglehole and Ruth Bonita, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said the sale of tobacco should be phased out within the next 25 years

That is despite research showing that increasing the cost of tobacco to consumers through taxation is one of the most effective ways to reduce consumption.

In the last 10 years 50 million people have died as a result of tobacco use, indicating the FCTC alone is insufficient to achieve substantive reductions in the use of tobacco.

While the implementation of the FCTC has been successful in some countries, particularly in Australia, New Zealand, Finland, the UK and some Pacific island countries, global action must now be taken.

A world where tobacco is out of sight, out of mind, and out of fashion – yet not prohibited – is achievable in less than three decades from now

Professor Robert Beaglehole

The authors note this can be achieved by accelerating the FCTC in those countries slow on the uptake.

They said up until now too much focus has been on reducing the demand for tobacco.

For further progress to be made, however, attention must turn to the supply, with greater regulation and closer scrutiny of the tobacco industry.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said: ‘Along with many other rich nations, we have made good progress in reducing tobacco use over the past several decades.

‘However, one in five UK adults continue to smoke, not through choice but because they are addicted.

‘And 100,000 die early each year as a result.

‘The authors of the Lancet articles are right that we need to do more to tackle the tobacco industry and to make it pay for the damage it does.

‘This is just what the tobacco levy currently being consulted on by HM Treasury could achieve.

‘But it is essential that the money raised should be used to encourage smokers to quit and to discourage young people from taking up this deadly habit.’

WHO already holds ‘World No Tobacco Day’ each year

PUBLISHED : 13 March 2015 | Updated: 13 March 2015. By Lizzie Parry
COPYRIGHT © ninemsn Pty Ltd

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