Tobacco remains major global threat to health

Tobacco remains major global threat to health

South Africa needs to step up its efforts to make the country 100% tobacco free by 2010, says the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) in a statement on 16 March, after attending a world conference on tobacco control.

Tobacco-free means no use of tobacco in any public place, including sports stadiums.

The tobacco epidemic is threatening world health, especially in developing countries where the tobacco industry is aggressively marketing its deadly products in order to find new customers.

In India alone, one million people die every year from tobacco-related diseases. Over 44 000 South Africans die from tobacco-related diseases annually and many more are made sick from tobacco products and second-hand smoke. Globally tobacco kills 5.2 million people per year.

South Africa is a leader in tobacco control in Africa and has made important strides with our new anti-tobacco legislation to come into effect soon. However, we have a lot more work to do in order to make sports stadiums and other public areas 100% tobacco-free and to help the over 5 million South African smokers quit this deadly addiction.

Almost 2 000 tobacco control advocates from around the world attended the Mumbai conference which issued the following declarations at the closing ceremony:

The 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health recognised that:

  • All tobacco products are harmful and create an economic burden especially in low income countries.
  • The global tobacco control community needs to increase efforts to combat this epidemic.
  • The tobacco industry markets all forms of tobacco products and continues to develop new tobacco products.
  • The tobacco industry obstructs effective tobacco control measures and continues to promote tobacco products through all possible means, including the entertainment industry.
  • The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is an effective tool for tobacco control adopted by 84% of countries in the world.

The conference made the following 11 recommendations:

  • The World Health Organisation maintains tobacco control as a first level priority.
  • By 2012 at least 90% of eligible countries will have become parties to the FCTC.
  • By 2012, the FCTC Protocol on illicit trade in tobacco products will have been adopted, ratified and entered into force and at least one other protocol in negotiation.
  • By 2012, the parties to the FCTC will have adopted two additional guidelines on implementation of Article 12 (Education, communication, training and public awareness) and Article 14 (Tobacco dependence and cessation)
  • By 2012, at least 80% of the countries will have complied with the minimum requirements under Article 8 (Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke), Article 11 (Packaging and labelling of tobacco products) and at least 50% should comply with the minimum requirements under Article 13 (Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship).
  • All parties to the FCTC will have paid their voluntary assessed contribution and at least 10% will provide extra budgetary contributions to the FCTC.
  • Non Governmental, Development and Philanthropic organisations will provide or maintain substantive contributions for tobacco control.
  • Governments, academia and civil society must not accept funding or participate in the tobacco industry’s youth, social responsibility, voluntary marketing or other programmes.
  • By 2012, the majority of the parties to FCTC would have begun tobacco cessation efforts as recommended under Article 14 of the FCTC.
  • By 2012, 80% of the countries would have raised tobacco taxes to over 60% of the retail price.
  • By 2012, the United Nations would have convened a General Session of Discussion on human rights and tobacco control.

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, Canada funded the attendance for CANSA and a number of other delegates from African countries as part of the centre’s Research for International Tobacco Control programme. See www.idrc.ca/tobacco


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