Mauritius and the Netherlands Praised for Tobacco Control, but Global Risks Persist

The World Health Organization (WHO) has commended Mauritius and the Netherlands for successfully implementing all of the UN health agency’s MPOWER tobacco control measures. This achievement, matched only by Brazil and Türkiye, showcases their commitment to public health. However, the WHO warns that despite these successes, 2.3 billion people in 44 countries remain without adequate tobacco control measures, leaving them vulnerable to illness and the economic burden of addiction.

In a new report, the UN agency highlights that 53 countries still lack complete smoking bans in healthcare facilities. This is concerning as tobacco use continues to pose one of the most significant public health threats, causing a staggering 1.3 million deaths annually due to passive smoking alone.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasizes the urgent need for greater efforts to restrict tobacco use, particularly in light of the aggressive promotion of e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. He points out that young people, including non-smokers, are a specific target, despite evidence that e-cigarettes are harmful to both users and those around them.

While there has been progress in reducing smoking rates, challenges remain in regulating e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. Some products can be modified by users, making it difficult to control nicotine concentration and risk levels. Additionally, certain products marketed as “nicotine-free” are found to contain addictive ingredients upon testing, making it challenging to distinguish them from non-nicotine or tobacco-containing products.

The WHO’s MPOWER tobacco control measures offer crucial advice on tackling passive smoking and promoting quitting, along with warnings about tobacco dangers, bans on advertising and sponsorship, and information about raising tobacco taxes. Encouraging smoke-free public spaces is another effective recommendation to protect people from second-hand smoke, motivate them to quit, and prevent the normalization of smoking among young people.

Over the last 15 years, the implementation of WHO’s MPOWER measures has led to 300 million fewer smokers worldwide. Yet, 44 countries still lack any tobacco control coverage, making it essential for governments to prioritize tobacco control as a global health concern.

An alarming finding by the WHO is that children who use e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are up to three times more likely to use tobacco products in the future. This underscores the importance of continued efforts to curb tobacco use and its associated risks.

Regardless of a country’s income level, the WHO emphasizes that all governments can play a vital role in reducing the demand for deadly tobacco, leading to significant gains in public health and substantial savings in healthcare and productivity costs. The fight against tobacco remains an urgent global health priority.


Leave a Comment