Smoking-related deaths annually cause an estimated 7.2 million deaths worldwide, killing half of all smokers over time — more than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. The WHO Europe region reports the highest prevalence of tobacco smoking among adults — 28% versus 21% worldwide, and the smoking rate among European women is more than double the world average — 19% versus 7% worldwide. To draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes, the WHO World Health Assembly instituted the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) in 1988, to be celebrated on 31 May each year. The annual changing theme of WNTD is intended. to cover the range of measures set out in the 2005 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which includes national actions for best practice on public smoking bans, tobacco advertising restrictions and taxation on tobacco products. This year’s theme is “Commit to Quitting”, focused on the FCTC endorsed measures to support the estimated 780 million people around the world who want to quit smoking.
Although 50 of 53 countries in the WHO Europe region have ratified the FCTC, only ten have comprehensive public smoking bans, and only five — Albania, Moldova, Russia, Spain, and Turkey — have a total ban on all forms of direct and indirect tobacco . advertisements. Strike policies have also been implemented to a lesser extent, with only nine countries – the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden and Turkey – offering the best policies to help people quit. Although the overall smoking rate has declined over the decades, it is still high in the European region. Russia has reduced its overall smoking rate from 39% in 2009 to 31% in 2016, but it still has the largest adult smoking population in the region, with an estimated 35 million people over the age of 15 smoking. Three other European countries that have succeeded in reducing smoking rates are Greece (40% in 2005 to 27% in 2017), Israel (30% in 2000 to 20% in 2019) and the United Kingdom (25% in 2006 to 14). % in 2019). Meanwhile, smoking rates in France and Germany have hardly dropped at all, with a stagnant adult smoking population of around 30%, reflecting the overall sluggishness trend in Western Europe.
Without comprehensive and pragmatic action to change current smoking trends, Europe will be the only WHO region not to reach the global non-communicable disease target to reduce tobacco use by 30% by 2025. A new target — around a smoking rate of 5 to reach% or lower by 2040 — is part of the EU’s Beating Cancer Plan released in February 2021. These targets, while ambitious, are achievable if WHO FCTC’s best practices, agreed upon for more than a decade, can be fully implemented. Previous surveys show that more than half of European smokers are interested in quitting, and data show that their success can be doubled by government measures such as free quit-smoking phone lines and health insurance-covered nicotine replacement therapies. The lack of government initiative has prevented the implementation of these strike programs in the past, and has not avoided the disease burden on millions of people. Change in policy is only possible under strong political will and in 2021 we are still waiting for the European political commitment to stop tobacco.
The Lancet Regional Health – Europe
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