Last week, the WHO launched their third Report On The Global Tobacco Epidemic, for 2011, in a series of reports about the extent of the global tobacco epidemic and the policy measures to stop it.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death globally and, if trends continue, tobacco will kill eight million people a year by 2030 and one billion people this century. 80 percent of these deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries; more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.
The report highlights the use of graphic warning labels and anti-tobacco mass media campaigns as two of the most effective provisions outlined in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (PDF).
Tobacco price increases through taxes, bans on advertising tobacco products, and the enforcement of smoke-free environments are all also cited in the report as strong measures to halt and reduce global tobacco use.
More than 1 billion people in 19 countries are now covered by policies requiring large, graphic health warnings on tobacco packs—a movement led by the strong warning label policy recently adopted by the United States.
While some progress has been made, too many countries are not doing enough. Most individuals are still unaware of the harms of tobacco and secondhand smoke on their health, further highlighting the importance of such policies in raising awareness and educating the public.