Tobacco Control

Unless urgent action is taken to reverse this global epidemic, the World Health Organization reports that tobacco will kill as many as one billion people this century, taking a greater claim on human health than any other single disease.

As the leading preventable agent of death in the world it’s responsible for more than six million deaths each year. And tobacco contributes to the onset of all of the four most common non-communicable diseases – Cancer, heart and lung disease and diabetes. Working globally and in more than 40 countries, Vital Strateies use policy, advocacy and strategic communication to urge governments to adopt proven tobacco control strategies, and partner with them to encourage life-saving, public health "best buys."

Vital Strategies delivers evidence-based public education campaigns and builds local health capacity to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco. Our campaigns encourage quitting, delay initiation, support policy goals, smoke-free environments, enforcement, and over the long term, change behaviors around the acceptability of smoking and attitudes about the tobacco industry.

Because of population growth and changing patterns in smoking behavior, due largely to the tobacco industry's strategy of targeting young people and women in the developing world, about 80 percent of tobacco-caused illness and death today is  in low and middle-income countries, where we do the majority of our work. In China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Brazil, among others counties, where populations and prevelance are highest.

Tobacco is also a global development issue. In addition to the high costs of treating diseases caused by tobacco use, including heart disease, cancer, and lung diseases, such as emphysema, and asthma; tobacco kills people at the peak of their wage-earning capacity, negatively impacting the economies of people and communities.

Tobacco deprives families of their breadwinners and nations of a healthy and productive workforce and adds to lost economic opportunities and a continuation of the cycle of poverty that exists in many countries. Vital Strategies supports and participants in fighing for the principles of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world's first international public health treaty.

  • Our tobacco control mass media campaigns have been seen by more than 2 billion people in over 30 countries
  • We are one of five global partners of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Global Tobacco Use
  • We produce The Tobacco Atlas, (fifth ed.) the most comprehensive, accessable information on the evolving global tobacco epidemic. Topics include health harms, markets and industry practices
  • We support production of WHO’s MPOWER reports, the world’s first-ever review of tobacco use in 195 countries 

Sustainable Funding Mechanisms for Population-Level Tobacco Control Communication 

One essential way for countries to comply with WHO recommendations on reduced tobacco use is to mount high-reach, effective campaigns on media platforms that reach large populations such as television and radio, and, increasingly, mobile and social media.

While media campaigns do require significant outlay of resources, considerable evidence shows they are cost-efficient.

Vital Strategies has authored a position paper - Sustainable Funding Mechanisms for Population-Level Tobacco Control Communication Programs, launched at the Conference of the Parties (COP7) in India in November 2016.

Access the position paper here.

Dad and children in Asia
Friends smoking hookah
Boy smoking