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WHO urges countries to develop, implement stringent policies to reduce tobacco products demand



The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on countries to develop, implement, and enforce effective policies that will help reduce the demand for tobacco products.

WHO made the call on Wednesday in a campaign article published on its website ahead of the 2019 Global Commemoration of the “World No Tobacco Day” celebrated yearly on May 31.

The organisation also urged countries that signed and ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to ensure full implementation of the treaty.

It said that its campaign was in line with the theme for 2019 Day: “Tobacco and Lung health’’.

According to WHO, its campaign is aimed at increasing awareness on the negative impact tobacco has on people’s health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease.

“The campaign also aims to increase awareness on the fundamental role lungs play for the health and well-being of all people.

“This campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form.

“The campaign also serves as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.

“World No Tobacco Day 2019 will focus on the multiple ways that exposure to tobacco affects the health of people’s lungs worldwide  and this includes lung cancer, chronic respiratory disease, tuberculosis and air pollution.

“Tobacco smoking is the primary cause for lung cancer responsible for over two thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Second-hand smoke exposure at home or in the work place also increases risk of lung cancer.

“It is also the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition where the build-up of pus-filled mucus in the lungs results in a painful cough and agonising breathing difficulties,’’ it said.

WHO said that infants exposed to tobacco smoke toxins through maternal smoking or maternal exposure to second-hand smoke frequently experienced reduced lung growth and function.

The organisation said that globally, an estimated 165,000 children died before the age of five years due to lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke.

It said that tobacco smoke is a very dangerous form of indoor air pollution as it contained more than 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.

“Though smoke may be invisible and odourless, it can linger in the air for up to five hours, putting those exposed at risk of lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and reduced lung function,” the organisation said.

It, therefore, urged countries to increase awareness on the harmful effects of tobacco products and exposure to second-hand smoke.

WHO said that tobacco control should be a priority for governments and communities worldwide because the world was still not on track to meeting the target of a tobacco free world.

In a separate campaign held in March 2019, WHO urged governments to enforce ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship especially at sporting events.