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Global tobacco control is only remedy for the health and economic burden of one billion smokers

(April 5th, 2017, New York, USA) – In response to a new analysis from the Global Burden of Disease study (GBD) published today in The Lancet, Vital Strategies calls on governments and civil society to redouble their efforts to implement and support strong tobacco control policies to save one billion daily smokers – and their dependents – from health and economic harm.

José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies, said: “While the human and economic cost of the tobacco epidemic will increase, there has been significant progress when governments have taken decisive action. We applaud those in government, civil society, World Health Organization and other international organizations, and donors like Michael Bloomberg, who have helped to reduce the prevalence of daily smoking by 28% among men and 34% among women, saving millions of lives over the past 25 years, according to the GBD.”

The report finds that 13 countries sustained significant annual rates of decline in tobacco use between both from 1990 to 2005 and 2005 to 2015, including Australia, the United States, and Brazil. In addition, daily smoking prevalence declined faster between 2005 and 2015 in 18 countries, including Nepal, Chile, and Ukraine. Vital Strategies also calls on advocates and media to shine more light on the tobacco industry’s attempts to derail and delay health policies for the sake of profit.

“What these countries have in common,” Castro continued, “is they have acted to implement strong tobacco control measures in line with their commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – confirming that political will is all that stands between millions of needless deaths and billions of dollars in economic costs.”

Three countries account for over half of all men who smoke daily worldwide: China with 254 million, India with 91 million, and Indonesia with 50 million. China also is home to 14 million female daily smokers and India to 13.5 million, second and third only to the United States with 17 million female daily smokers.

Castro concluded: “We encourage all stakeholders to build support for tobacco control policies, especially high tobacco prices and taxes. When governments stop working with the deceitful tobacco industry, and follow the WHO MPOWER roadmap to fulfil their commitments under the WHO FCTC, they can rapidly reduce the number of smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke, saving lives. This report confirms that the time for action is now and Vital Strategies stands ready to play our part.”

The Global Burden of Disease study is open-access research article, published in The Lancet at www.lancet.com/gbd. In addition to the study, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle updated its data visualization tool to reflect data through 2015. The tool can be accessed at www.vizhub.com/tobacco.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health and tobacco control expert, please contact Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies, at +44.7889.081.170 or tjohnston@vitalstrategies.org