International Commercial Tobacco Control

An astonishing 5.4 million people around the world die annually from tobacco-related illnesses.  At the current rate, tobacco-related illness is estimated to kill 8 million people a year by 2030 – 80 percent of them in developing countries. 

Despite these dramatic statistics and irrefutable medical evidence of the health risks of tobacco and secondhand smoke, the World Health Organization reported in 2010 that only 5 percent of the world’s population is protected by comprehensive national smoke-free legislation. Forty percent of all countries still allow smoking in hospitals and schools. Only 5 percent of the global population lives in countries with comprehensive national bans on tobacco advertising and promotion. Services to treat tobacco dependence are fully available in only nine countries (5 percent of the world’s people). Tobacco tax revenues are more than 4,000 times greater than spending on tobacco control in middle-income countries and more than 9,000 times greater in lower-income countries.

Not only is tobacco a formidable health burden on the global community, but it is an economic and social burden as well. It exacerbates poverty, contributes to world hunger by diverting prime land from food production, reduces economic productivity, and damages the environment. Commercial tobacco control tasks in the international arena are huge, but the risks of inaction are even greater.  As a result, much of the global community has united in adopting the world’s first health treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.