Skip to content ↓
Press Room

World Health Organizations’ Global Tobacco Report as a Landmark Applauded

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York) – The World Lung Foundation (WLF) applauds the World Health Organization's “WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2008” as a landmark step toward helping nations reduce tobacco's deadly toll worldwide.

The WHO report, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is the world's first-ever comprehensive report of how people in 179 countries use tobacco and what their governments are doing to reduce the health effects of tobacco use. It outlines a six strategy program, MPOWER, to reduce a global death toll that could reach one billion this century. The six strategies are:

  • Monitoring the epidemic and prevention policies;
  • Protecting people from secondhand smoke;
  • Offering help to quit tobacco use;
  • Warning about the dangers of tobacco;
  • Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising and promotion; and
  • Raising taxes and prices.

“The WHO report offers an achievable agenda of proven ways to counter the tobacco epidemic,” said Louis James de Viel Castel, WLF chairman. “Its MPOWER package of six strategies is a road map with guideposts helping every country in the world to act before the tobacco scourge needlessly claims millions more lives.”

WLF, which develops projects to support organizations and programs that fight lung disease and tobacco use, is an active partner with the Bloomberg Initiative and WHO in producing the report and in many other tobacco control activities.

The WHO report was released today at a press conference in New York. It noted that the current five million tobacco-related deaths every year will climb to eight million a year unless governments take strong action. About 80% of those deaths will occur in low to middle-income countries, to which the epidemic is now shifting, largely because of the tobacco industry's global strategy to target young people and adults in those areas.

The report found that only about 5% of the world's population is protected by any one of the leading five tobacco control policies: taxation, ad bans, public education, smoke-free places, and access to cessation support. No country in the world has fully implemented all five policies at the highest level and with full enforcement. Additionally, the report notes that more than half of the world's population lives in countries with little or no information about the scope of the tobacco pandemic in their country.

WLF was established in response to the global epidemic of lung disease, which kills 10 million people each year. Half of these deaths are caused by tobacco. Research, education, and collaboration – all of which are supported by WLF – can reduce this deadly toll.

In addition to the WHO, WLF's partners include the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the Stop TB Partnership, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. WLF works in five primary areas: tobacco, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, child lung health, and asthma.

Download the full report from the WHO