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WHO reports global decline in male tobacco users; SL conducting its own survey

The number of males consuming tobacco has drastically reduced globally indicating a powerful shift in the global tobacco epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement yesterday (19).

WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “For many years, we had witnessed a steady rise in the number of males using deadly tobacco products. But now for the first time, we are seeing a decline in male use, driven by governments being tougher on the tobacco industry”.

According to the WHO report, overall global tobacco consumption has fallen from 1.397 billion in 2000 to 1.337 billion in 2018 (approximately 60 million people).

The new report indicates that “by 2020, there will be 10 million fewer users, both male and female and another 27 million less in 2025, amounting to 1.299 billion.” Some 60% of countries have been experiencing a decline in tobacco use since 2010.

Director of Health Promotion (WHO) Dr Ruediger Krech said: “Reductions in global tobacco use demonstrate that when governments introduce and strengthen their comprehensive evidence-based actions, they can protect the well-being of their citizens and communities.”

Each year, eight million people die due to tobacco use and these deaths mainly occur in low- and middle-income countries, areas that are targets of intensive tobacco industry interference and marketing.

“Fewer people are using tobacco, which is a major step for global public health but the work is not yet done. Without stepped-up national action, the projected fall in tobacco use still won’t meet global reduction targets. We must never let up in the fight against Big Tobacco,” the statement quoted Dr Vinayak Prasad, head of WHO tobacco control unit, as saying.

Meanwhile, asked about recent trends and statistics pertaining to the consumption of tobacco in Sri Lanka, the Department of Census and Statistic said that it is currently conducting a survey in this regard.

“From time to time we have included the topic in questionnaires and reports issued by the Department. However, we have not conducted any research on this matter alone thus far. However, a new survey regarding the tobacco use of Sri Lankans and matters pertaining to that are presently being carried out. The survey will be completed in another four months’ time,” a spokesperson for the Department said.

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