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EDITORIAL
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 1-2  

Accelerating tobacco control in South-East Asia in the sustainable development goal era


1 Regional Director, WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia Region, IP Estate, M G Road, New Delhi, India
2 Director, Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Environmental Health, WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia Region, IP Estate, M G Road, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication15-Sep-2017

Correspondence Address:
Poonam Khetrapal Singh
Regional Director, WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia Region, IP Estate, M G Road, New Delhi
India
Thaksaphon Thamarangsi
Director, Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Environmental Health, WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia Region, IP Estate, M G Road
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijph.IJPH_229_17

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How to cite this article:
Singh PK, Thamarangsi T. Accelerating tobacco control in South-East Asia in the sustainable development goal era. Indian J Public Health 2017;61, Suppl S1:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Singh PK, Thamarangsi T. Accelerating tobacco control in South-East Asia in the sustainable development goal era. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Sep 19];61, Suppl S1:1-2. Available from: http://www.ijph.in/text.asp?2017/61/5/1/214898

Tobacco use leads to more than 7.2 million deaths globally, and majority of these deaths happen in low- and middle-income countries.[1]

Tobacco is a proven threat to overall development in direct and indirect ways. Direct impact is economic burden resulting from health-care costs for the treatment of illnesses caused by tobacco use and exposure to second hand smoke; and indirect impact is through loss of productivity, damage to environment, and trade-offs from food, education, and health. While a rapid increase in tobacco consumption might inflate economy in the short term through both increased investment and private expenditures on tobacco and higher public spending financed by higher tobacco tax revenues, such a boost would be dwarfed by a subsequent rise in morbidity, disability, and mortality among tobacco users in their productive years, thus causing overall loss of productivity.[2]

On the other hand, tobacco control is highly cost-effective and is economically beneficial to all countries, especially low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is an evidence-based treaty which consists of demand reduction and supply reduction measures. The treaty has also been recognized as one of the implementation targets (target 3a) under the sustainable development goals-3 to be achieved by 2030.[2] Tobacco is regarded as a threat to sustainable development. Effective tobacco control, therefore, could be a powerful mean to improve not only population health but also environment protection, socioeconomic development, social equalizer, education enhancer, as well as hunger and poverty reduction.

The WHO South-East Asia Region (SEAR) is home to world's one-fourth smokers (nearly 246 million) and more than 80% of the world's smokeless tobacco users (290 million). More than 1.3 million persons die each year as a result of tobacco use. The tobacco control remains a challenge in the region in view of countries having contrasting geographic patterns, diverse populations and ethnicity, wide range of political systems, sociocultural norms, rampant tobacco industry interference, and variety of tobacco products being consumed.

The SEAR member states are working toward achieving the voluntary target of 30% relative reduction in the prevalence of current tobacco use in persons aged 15 years and above by 2025 as enshrined in their respective National Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD) Action Plans under the Global NCD Monitoring Framework. For more than a decade of the WHO FCTC implementation in the SEAR, member states have achieved many milestones. The countries have progressed in implementing the WHO MPOWER package and “best buys” strategies to reduce the demand of tobacco and are constantly taking steps to enhance various tobacco control initiatives.[3]

There are many best practices in tobacco control in the region. Thailand has strengthened its smoke-free laws and further raised taxes on tobacco products; Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Sri Lanka have taken initiatives to build and expand capacity for tobacco cessation, Nepal has the largest graphic health warnings on tobacco packs, India has “tobacco-free movies” legislation in place, and Maldives also raised tax on tobacco products.

Still, the way forward for the countries of the SEAR in tobacco control is fraught with challenges in view of rampant tobacco industry interference, resource constraint, and low priority to tobacco control by concerned nonhealth sectors. There is a huge scope for opportunities to learn from global and regional best practices and improved coordination at all levels to accelerate implementation of the WHO FCTC, including the supply side interventions. Building national capacity, in particular in implementing tobacco control interventions, as well as mainstreaming tobacco control as socioeconomic development agenda is subject of urgent attention. Research in tobacco control is a glaring gap in SEAR. The WHO has supported and encouraged research at the regional and country level to create local evidence for facilitating tobacco control policies and programs. A robust unified approach that engages all stakeholders, including the researchers, civil society organizations, international and intergovernmental organizations, and the academia and involves increased investment in tobacco control by the governments of the SEAR is the need of the hour. Only such an approach would meaningfully contribute toward a tobacco-free SEAR.

 
   References Top

1.
GBD 2015 Risk Factors Collaborators. Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990-2015: A systematic analysis for the global burden of disease study 2015. Lancet 2016;388:1659-724.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]    
2.
World Health Organisation South-East Asia Regional Office (WHO SEARO). Tobacco Control for Sustainable Development. New Delhi: World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia; 2017.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
World Health Organisation South-East Asia Regional Office (WHO SEARO). Accelerating WHO FCTC Implementation in the WHO South-East Asia Region – A Practical Approach. New Delhi: World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia; 2017.  Back to cited text no. 3
    




 

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