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World No Tobacco Day – Vital Strategies hails progress in tobacco control

(May 31, 2016, New York, USA) – Vital Strategies today joined global calls for more countries to follow Australia, the UK and France in implementing and enforcing pain packaging and large graphic warning labels on all tobacco products. In addition, while recognizing real progress in tobacco control over the past year, Vital Strategies warned that more needs to be done to implement high tobacco taxes, as recommended under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

On World No Tobacco Day, Vital Strategies also celebrates the launch or current implementation of mass and social media tobacco control campaigns in Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Beijing and Shanghai, Nuevo León (Mexico), and the Western Pacific region.

José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vital Strategies commented:

“Of all the progress made in the past year, perhaps the most significant advance is the truly global consensus around the link between tobacco, ill health and negative health and economic impacts. This evidence-backed, simple principal is evident in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which urges countries to fully implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and the Adidas Ababa Action Agenda, which recommends the use of tobacco taxes as a sustainable means of financing development. Using higher tobacco taxes to fund change, while also decreasing smoking prevalence, is a clear “win-win” and we urge more countries to increase tobacco taxes to reduce affordability.

“We also recognize the excellent progress that has been made on implementing smoke-free laws in major global cities like Beijing and the significant developments in implementing large graphic warnings on tobacco packs across a number of populous countries, particularly in Asia and South East Asia. Large warnings help to increase awareness of the real harms of tobacco while reducing the space available to tobacco companies to market their brands. The next logical step, of course, is to move to plain packaging with large graphic warnings. We encourage more governments to withstand the tobacco industry’s bullying tactics and move to implement plain packaging.

“The tobacco industry frequently tries to persuade governments that health should take a back seat to its business interests, but of all the Strategic Development Goals, tobacco control is one of the easiest to implement thanks to the proven interventions already set out under FCTC. Tackling tobacco in this way enables governments to concentrate on other issues. The post-2015 development agenda should finally drive home the message that sacrificing public health concerns for the sake of industry profit is a false economy, because healthy, economically active citizens are critical to every country’s development and economic growth. Real progress is possible in the coming year. Vital Strategies stands ready to provide governments and civil society partners with advocacy, guidance and technical assistance to help make this a reality,” he concluded.

A year of progress

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets the implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as a global goal. The Addis Ababa Action Agreement underlined the importance of using higher tobacco taxes to fund development. The US Food and Drug Administration finalized its “deeming rule” to enable further progress on tobacco control. The Tobacco Products Directive was implemented across Europe. AXA Group became the first multinational financial services company to announce that it would divest its tobacco interests – highlighting the tobacco industry’s harmful effects on people and the economy. Beijing implemented and enforced 100% comprehensive smoke-free laws, as recommended in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, setting an example for a potential national smoke-free law.  A number of countries across Asia and South East Asia implemented large graphic warnings on tobacco packs – including Nepal (90%), India, (85%), Thailand (85%), Sri Lanka (80%), Myanmar (75%), the Philippines (50%) and Bangladesh (50%). Major Vital Strategies-supported social and mass media tobacco control campaigns ran in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, China (nationally and city-wide campaigns in Beijing and Shanghai), Cambodia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Brazil, and Nuevo León, Mexico.

Research has shown that mass media campaigns and graphic health warnings on tobacco packs are one of the most effective means to prompt people to stop smoking. They are one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption. M-P-O-W-E-R strategies are endorsed and promoted by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, of which Vital Strategies is a principal partner. 

Vital Strategies-supported campaign PSAs and stills and transcripts from the PSAs are available upon request.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies envisions a world where every person is protected by a strong public health system.  Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change.  Vital Strategies was formed when The Union North America and World Lung Foundation joined forces.  It is an affiliate of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).

To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health expert, please contact Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies, at +44.7889.081.170 or