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Stop illicit trade of tobacco products, WHO says

This year World No Tobacco Day is all about the notion of stopping the illicit trade of tobacco products.

The goals of this year’s campaign are to: 

  1. Raise awareness on the harm to people’s health
  2. Show how healthcare gains and programmes are undermined by the illicit trade in tobacco products
  3. Demonstrate how the tobacco industry has been involved in the illicit trade of tobacco products
  4. Highlight how the illicit trade of tobacco products is a means of amassing great wealth for criminal groups
  5. Promote the ratification of, accession to and use of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products by all Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. Tobacco is the only legal drug that kills many of its users when used exactly as intended by manufacturers. The WHO estimates that tobacco use is currently responsible for the deaths of about six million people around the world each year, with many of these deaths occurring prematurely.

The Global Report on Trends in Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking, launched during the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) on 21 March 2015 in Abu Dhabi, UAE, shows a declining rate of tobacco use and an increase in numbers of non-smokers. According to this report, in 2010, there were 3.9 billion non-smokers aged 15 years and over in WHO member states. This number is projected to rise to 5 billion by 2025 if the current pace of tobacco cessation continues. However, governments must increase action to combat the tobacco industry and reduce consumption of tobacco products to protect public health, according to the WHO. 

The WCTOH conference focused on tobacco control and non communicable diseases (NCDs), namely lung and heart diseases, cancer and diabetes.  Later this year, FIP will release new guidelines for pharmacists on lead activities towards a tobacco-free community. The guidelines will particularly focus on cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

According to the WHO, one out of every 13 children born today die early due to a smoking-related illness. Just as the problem of tobacco use around the world is a WHO priority, it is the priority of FIP.  Pharmacists are in a perfect position to accelerate tobacco control strategies and raise awareness of the devastating consequences of tobacco use.