Accelerate tobacco, e-cigarette control measures: WHO to Southeast Asian countries

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 20-02-2024 15:59 IST | Created: 20-02-2024 15:59 IST
Accelerate tobacco, e-cigarette control measures: WHO to Southeast Asian countries
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The World Health Organization has called on countries in the Southeast Asian region to intensify efforts to control tobacco and e-cigarette use, as tobacco consumption in the region continues to be the highest globally despite considerable decline over the years and vaping is on the rise.

The high use of tobacco has put the people at risk of life-threatening diseases such as cancer, respiratory and heart ailments, Saima Wazed, regional director of WHO South-East Asia, said.

''Urgent measures are also needed to control e-cigarettes, which have not been proven to be effective for smoking cessation. We must do all we can to control tobacco and e-cigarette use to protect health and save lives,'' she said.

While tobacco use in the WHO Southeast Asia region decreased from 68.9 per cent in 2000 to around 43.7 per cent in 2022, an estimated 411 million people in the region still consume tobacco, according to the latest trends released this year, she said.

The region has 280 million smokeless tobacco users, nearly 77 per cent of the global smokeless tobacco users, and around 11 million adolescent tobacco users in the age group of 13-15 years, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the global total.

The use of e-cigarettes, particularly among young people, is increasing in many countries, with co-use of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes being common. Thailand, which has been tracking e-cigarette use, reported a steep rise in e-cigarette use among school-aged children of 13 to 15 years, from 3.3 per cent in 2015 to 17.6 per cent in 2022, Wazed said.

WHO is committed to support policies aimed at countering tobacco and e-cigarette industries' interference for safeguarding the health of the over 2 billion people in the region, she said.

While DPR Korea, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor-Leste have banned e-cigarettes, Maldives regulates e-cigarettes as tobacco products.

Over the years, countries in the region have made significant progress in combating tobacco. Tobacco use among men declined from 68.9 per cent in 2000 to 43.7 per cent in 2022, and among women from 33.5 per cent in 2000 to 9.4 per cent in 2022, the steepest decline among all WHO regions.

The region, alongside the WHO African region, is on track to achieve the NCD (non-communicable diseases) 2025 target of a 30 per cent reduction in tobacco use by 2025, Wazed said.

India and Nepal are expected to achieve the NCD target of at least 30 per cent reduction in tobacco use by 2025 while eight other countries are projected to record declines, though less than 30 per cent.

While Bangladesh has announced ''Tobacco Free Bangladesh by 2024, India has initiated 'Tobacco Endgame'.

Countries in the region are implementing demand reduction strategies as advocated by WHO MPOWER package and other initiatives for tobacco control.

Given the high interference of tobacco industry, more assertive actions are needed to enforce tobacco control laws and policies, Wazed stressed.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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