On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, Dr Ehsan Latif, Vice-President for grant management and stakeholder’s engagement at the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World spoke to Sachi Satapathy, Director, AF Development Care (AFDC), New Delhi regarding the progress of tobacco control programmes. Excerpts:
The world still sees around 8 million deaths annually due to tobacco usage and hosts around 1 billion active users.
Do you think the policies to control tobacco usage are inadequate?
Cessation has long been recognised as the fastest way to reduce tobacco-related mortalities and morbidities.
Still implementation of cessation assistance in line with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has remained relatively weak.
These facts are proof that health policies and actions have not been adequate.
Many organisations working to end smoking advocate for inclusion of consumers in policy making. Your thoughts.
Traditional tobacco control advocates have focused narrowly on cessation often without engaging smokers in developing ways smokers feel work best for them.
Though smokers often make repeat cessation attempts, cessation success rates remain low. One of the factors is that smokers are not being presented with options that appeal to them.
Q3. Many support the idea of updating the strategies adopted by the WHO on ending tobacco use. Your thoughts.
WHO should engage in an open dialogue with all stakeholders, including smokers and the private sector.
Only through an open dialogue, critical assessment of the research and taking comprehensive action based on the full body of evidence available, will the aim of ending smoking in this generation be achieved.
Q4. A section of people demanding little interference by the tobacco industry in tobacco control programmes. Do you find the demand justified?
Though the scepticism is well-justified based on historical activities of the tobacco industry, my hope is that experts in the field will continue to work together, keeping focus on the prevention of tobacco related deaths and drawing on the current research and solutions available.