2019 began auspiciously, with a sense that the end of smoking might finally be on the horizon. This ambience of optimism, however, was short-lived. Instead of progress, 2019 brought a series of setbacks, schisms, and squandered opportunities to improve global health. Still, I remain hopeful that 2020 can be different.
Smoking is a major behavioral risk factor common to all four major noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)—namely, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases. Approximately 80% of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); and NCDs are estimated to cause more than two-thirds of all deaths in developing countries. This socioeconomic gradient in morbidity and mortality for NCDs is attributed, in part, to smoking. Despite these jarring figures, research on smoking cessation interventions remains limited in LMICs. We discussed these issues and the link between smoking, NCDs, and social injustice in a recently-published book, Social Injustice and Public Health.
Around the world, sales volumes of combustible cigarettes are dropping. Meanwhile, growth rates are substantial across a range of tobacco harm reduction products. These trends suggest that some consumers are swapping out conventional cigarettes for newer products—a phenomenon that Jacob Grier refers to as the “creative destruction” of the cigarette industry.
Surveying the room in Solapur, I’m struck first by the elegance of the women’s saris, and second, by the iPad. Equipped with advanced facial recognition software, the machine’s sophistication stands in stark contrast to the rest of the scene, which otherwise comprises piles of tendu leaves, processed tobacco, thread, and perilously sharp sheers.
Over the past 15 years, corporate leaders, investors, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have demonstrated that, with the use of innovative business models, profit can be aligned with social and environmental progress. A departure from the “band-aid” corporate social responsibility (CSR) approaches of the 1990s, these strategies involve fundamental changes to business practices, including alterations to core products and services.
By Dr. Derek Yach,
President of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World
Each year since 1989, World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed on May 31. WNTD serves as a reminder of the tireless efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking around the world, and specifically to encourage and support smokers to quit or switch. So, 30 years after the first WNTD, where do we stand?
By the late 1980s, the World Health Organization (WHO) had started to ramp up efforts to address global tobacco control. World No Tobacco Day was created by the Member States of the WHO in 1987, whereby the World Health Assembly (WHA) passed Resolution WHA40.38 that called for April 7, 1988, to be a “a world no-smoking day.”
A recent study by Murray DM et al., published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, aimed to provide an analysis of the level of NIH support for primary and secondary prevention research in humans by field and stage of research. The study was conducted between 2012 and 2017 and included all 27 Institutes and Centers at the NIH that collaborate with the Office of Disease Prevention (ODP).
As 2018 ends, let’s take stock of whether we are making real progress in ending smoking. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that there are still more than 1 billion smokers in the world today, and more than 7 million lives are prematurely claimed by smoking-related cancer, heart disease, and lung disease.
On behalf of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, I would like to commend all participants in the London Stakeholder event for the informative and invigorating conversations. The event provided a comprehensive framework for forthcoming progress and innovation that will drive us toward a smoke-free world. All comments and suggestions will be carefully considered while we make strides toward achieving our purpose.
There are over a billion smokers worldwide. Unless we act more decisively, a billion tobacco users will die in this century if the status quo is maintained. Harm reduction products (HRPs) can be smoking cessation tools for many smokers and reduce their health risks compared to cigarettes. However, smokers have skewed perceptions of HRP-associated risks relative to combustible tobacco.