(CMC) – A new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) notes that while many countries are making progress in the fight against tobacco use, some are failing to address the problem of emerging nicotine and tobacco products.
The study noted that compared with 2007, more than four times as many people, estimated at 5.3 billion, are now covered by at least one WHO-recommended tobacco control measure.
WHO has listed six measures aimed at curbing tobacco smoking, including monitoring tobacco use and preventive measures, protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit, warning about the dangers of tobacco; as well as enforcing bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and raising taxes on tobacco.
The organisation said that more than half of all countries and half the world’s population are now covered by at least two of these, an increase of 14 countries, and almost one billion more people since the last report in 2019.
But it noted that whilst half of the world’s population are exposed to tobacco products with graphic health warnings, progress has not been even across all the measures.
“Raising tobacco taxes has been slow to have an impact and 49 countries remain without any measures adopted,” WHO said, noting that of particular concern, new data shows that children who use electronic nicotine delivery systems, such as ‘e-cigarettes’ are up to three times more likely to use tobacco products in the future.
“WHO is concerned that these products are often being marketed to children and adolescents by the tobacco and related industries that manufacture them, using thousands of appealing flavours and misleading claims about the products.”
It is recommending governments do more to implement regulations to stop non-smokers from getting addicted in the first place, to prevent renormalisation of smoking in the community, and protect future generations.
“Nicotine is highly addictive. Electronic nicotine delivery systems are harmful, and must be better regulated,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“Where they are not banned, governments should adopt appropriate policies to protect their populations from the harms of electronic nicotine delivery systems, and to prevent their uptake by children, adolescents and other vulnerable groups.”
Currently, 32 countries have banned the sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems.