Tobacco consumption is the leading cause of disease and death worldwide. The 16th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health in Abu Dhabi urged countries to take steps to reduce the consumption of tobacco. Organizers insisted that tobacco use, in all its forms, is a major contributor to the occurrence of non-communicable disease, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory diseases. Therefore, the five-day global anti-tobacco conference also called for wider implementation of World Health Organization guidelines for cutting smoking rates and reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases. Tobacco causes one in six of all non-communicable diseases (NCD) deaths and that almost half of current tobacco users will eventually die of tobacco-related disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) says NCDs kill 35 million people annually, of whom 80% are in low- and middle-income countries. The WHO claimed that one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco, and nearly six million people each year. It warns that unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to eight million by 2030; and despite a decline in the number of smokers in many countries, more needs to be done to curb tobacco use to meet the global target of a 30% reduction in consumption by 2025.
The WHO guidelines on steps governments can take to cut smoking rates, includes punitive tax measures; bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; the creation of smoke-free work and public spaces, prominent health warnings on tobacco packages and combating illicit trade. The treaty was signed by 180 countries but implementation has fallen short of objectives, and the conference urged global cooperation to fully implement it.
The conference called for all countries to have ratified the treaty by 2018, at as well as for at least 30 countries to have adopted plain packaging and at least 100 requiring graphic warnings covering more than 50% of cigarette packets. It said that at least 15 additional countries should introduce a 70% hike in taxes on the retail price of tobacco products. The conference also supported an initiative to be voted by parliament in the Australian state of Tasmania Tuesday to ban tobacco sales to all those born this century, to achieve a ’tobacco-free generation’.