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Globalization of the Tobacco Epidemic Parallel event On-Conference sites
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17 June 2004, 10h00 - 13h00, Room A
Globalization of the Tobacco Epidemic | Tobacco Control and Development
Tobacco control is an important instrument for improving development, particularly in developing countries. Tobacco Free Initiative organized by the World Health Organization (WHO)

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Background information:

Tobacco is one of the rare lethal products legally and widely traded at the global level. Tobacco products have a transnational dimension when it comes to smuggling, global advertising and promotion, or international cooperation on information sharing. The tobacco epidemic has thus become globalized, and its globalization restricts the capacity of countries to regulate tobacco through domestic legislation alone. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which was adopted in May 2003 by WHO’s 192 member States, is intended as a common framework in which countries can work together to address the challenge that tobacco use represents at the global level. Tobacco use has also a development dimension. Tobacco Free InitiativeIn all the countries where data are available, tobacco use has been shown to be very closely related to poverty. Tobacco consumption is moving from developed to developing countries. Tobacco use also worsens the poverty of individuals and countries. At the individual and household levels, money spent on tobacco has a very high opportunity cost. For the poor, money spent on tobacco is money not spent on basic necessities, such as food, shelter, education and health care. Poor tobacco consumers also tend to be more at risk of falling sick, which can exacerbate a household&apo;s financial situation. At the national level, countries suffer huge economic losses owing to high health care costs, as well as lost productivity caused by tobacco-related illnesses and premature deaths. Most countries are net importers of tobacco products and lose millions of dollars a year in precious foreign exchange from these imports. Tobacco also degrades their natural environment.Based on the facts set out above, tobacco is clearly linked to the Millennium Development Goals, in particular with regard to disease, poverty, hunger and gender issues.

Purpose: This parallel event aims to link tobacco to development and poverty. The event is designed to raise awareness about the issue and the pressing need to include tobacco control in the development agenda of Governments and intergovernmental organizations.

Expected outcome:

  • Move forward ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control at the country level with the help of stronger collaboration by multisectoral and intergovernmental agencies.
  • Include tobacco control in the programmes of countries working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
  • Include tobacco control in the activities of the UN Development Group.


Quick links: | WHO: Tobacco Free Initiative | Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)|

Contact: Dr. Vera da Costa e Silva, Director, Tobacco Free Initiative, World Health Organization.  E-mail:

Last updated: 16 June 2004 21:05