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Success as fewer adults are smoking cigarettes globally, WHO report says

According to the most recent World Health Organisation (WHO) tobacco trends report, the global number of adult tobacco users stands at 1.25 billion.

As of 2022, tobacco usage rates have continued to decline, with about 1 in 5 adults smoking globally, compared to 1 in 3 in 2000.

The report emphasises that efforts to reduce tobacco use have been successful in 150 countries. Brazil and the Netherlands have implemented MPOWER (Monitor Tobacco Use and Prevention Policies) with notable success. While the Netherlands is almost at the 30% target, Brazil has experienced a relative reduction of 35% per cent since 2010.

The WHO urges nations to keep enforcing tobacco control laws and to guard against any influence from the tobacco industry. With 26.5% of people using tobacco, the WHO South-East Asian Region currently has the highest rate of tobacco use, closely followed by the European Region with 25.3%.

Although the world is expected to achieve a 25% relative reduction in tobacco use by 2025, falling short of the voluntary global goal of a 30% reduction from the baseline of 2010, global tobacco use has been declining steadily.

It is anticipated that just 56 countries will accomplish this goal, which is four countries fewer than reported in 2021. 

According to the report, the WHO European Region is predicted to have the highest global prevalence by 2030, at slightly over 23%. The rates of tobacco use among women in this region are declining more slowly than in other regions and they are more than twice as high as the global average.

Despite progress, the use of tobacco has not changed much in some countries since 2010 and in six countries—Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Oman and the Republic of Moldova—tobacco use has increased since 2010.

WHO stresses the urgency of intensifying tobacco control efforts, particularly in light of the Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2023's prediction of a rise in tobacco industry interference worldwide. 

To safeguard upcoming generations and guarantee a sustained decrease in tobacco consumption, the theme of this year's World No Tobacco Day is shielding kids from tobacco industry influence.

Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of the WHO Department of Health Promotion, says, “Good progress has been made in tobacco control in recent years, but there is no time for complacency. I’m astounded at the depths the tobacco industry will go to pursue profits at the expense of countless lives.”

“We see that the minute a government thinks they have won the fight against tobacco, the tobacco industry seizes the opportunity to manipulate health policies and sell their deadly products.”

The 10th Session of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Conference of Parties will take place in Panama City the following month. There are concerns regarding financial and in-kind incentives that the tobacco industry may try to use to influence global health policies during this meeting.

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