We hold in our hands the solution to the global tobacco epidemic that threatens the lives of one billion men, women and children during this century. In fact, tobacco use can kill in so many ways that it is a risk factor for six of the eight
leading causes of death in the world. The cure
for this devastating epidemic is dependent not on medicines or vaccines, but on the concerted actions of government and civil society.

This is a unique point in public health history as
the forces of political will, policies and funding are aligned to create the momentum needed to dramatically reduce tobacco use and save millions of lives by the middle of this century.

Reversing this entirely preventable epidemic must now rank as a top priority for public health and for political leaders in every country of the world.

The global consensus that we must fight the
tobacco epidemic has already been established by the more than 150 Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Now, the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008 gives countries a roadmap that builds on the WHO Framework Convention to turn this global consensus into a global reality through MPOWER, a package of six effective tobacco control policies.

But countries need not act alone. WHO, with help from its global partners, is scaling up its capacity and is committed to supporting Member States as they implement and enforce the MPOWER policies. The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008 also enables WHO to present a unique and comparable set of country-specific data from around the world that will cast an intense spotlight on tobacco use, its impact
on people and economies, and the progress countries are making to reverse the epidemic.

Prompt action is crucial. The tobacco epidemic already kills 5.4 million people a year from lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Unchecked, that number will increase to more than 8 million a year by 2030. Tragically, with more than 80% of those deaths occurring in the developing world, the epidemic will strike hardest in countries whose rapidly growing economies offer their citizens the hope of a better life. To the tobacco companies, these economies represent vast new marketplaces. This will result not only in large increases in illness and death, but also in less productive workforces and escalating avoidable healthcare
costs.

We cannot let this happen. I call on governments around the world to take urgent action to implement the policies outlined in the MPOWER package.

Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General
World Health Organization

 

This landmark new report presents the first comprehensive worldwide analysis of tobacco use and control efforts. It provides countries with a roadmap to reverse the devastating global tobacco epidemic that could kill up to one billion people by the end of this century.

The report outlines the MPOWER package, a set of six key tobacco control measures that reflect and build on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.