WHO demands total tobacco blackout worldwide

Bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship are one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco consumption.

To observe the World No Tobacco Day, on Friday, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has called for countries to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship to help reduce the number of tobacco users.

WHO said young people, up to one in three, are more likely to pick up the tobacco habit on exposure to the product through advertising, promotion and sponsorships. Worldwide, a high 78 per cent of young people aged 13-15 years report regular exposure to some form of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship are one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco consumption, with countries that have already introduced bans showing an average of 7% reduction in tobacco consumption.

“Tobacco use ranks right at the very top of the list of universal threats to health yet it’s entirely preventable,” WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, said. “Governments must make it their top priority to stop the tobacco industry’s shameless manipulation of young people and women, in particular, to recruit the next generation of nicotine addicts.”

The Director of WHO’s prevention of non-communicable diseases department, Douglas Bettcher, said,“Most tobacco users start their deadly drug dependence before the age 20.”

“Banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is one of the best ways to protect young people from starting smoking as well as reducing tobacco consumption across the entire population,” he added.

WHO’s report on the global tobacco epidemic 2011 shows that only 19 countries (representing just 6 per cent of the world’s population) have reached the highest level of achievement in banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. More than one third of countries have minimal or no restrictions at all.

Ban not enough

A 1990 decree in Nigeria proscribed the advertisement and promotion of tobacco. But Nigeria is yet to pass a comprehensive tobacco control law, after ratifying the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Anti tobacco activist insist that Nigerian laws are too weak to battle the dangerous trend of tobacco consumption, fuelled by stealth marketing by tobacco companies.

An attempt to pass a tobacco control law in Nigeria failed the last step to become a law after President Goodluck Jonathan failed to sign it into law before the expiration of the last regime.

Nigeria is not listed by WHO as one of the countries making strong progress in controlling the promotion of tobacco.

Tobacco kills up to half its users.

By 2030, WHO estimates that tobacco will kill more than 8 million people every year, with four out of five of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries.

Tobacco is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.

“Governments must make it their top priority to stop the tobacco industry’s shameless manipulation of young people and women, in particular, to recruit the next generation of nicotine addicts,” Mr. Chan said.


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