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News Article

PAHO Praises Progress in the Fight Against Tobacco Use

By Rodrigo Andrade | Tue, 08/16/2022 - 11:56

The Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Report on Tobacco Control of the Region of the Americas 2022 highlights that 96 percent of the population of the 35 countries in the region are protected by at least one of the six tobacco control measures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The report also indicates that 26 out of the 35 countries have achieved the highest level of regulation in at least one of the parameters established by the WHO.

The measures recommended by WHO aim to monitor and prevent tobacco use and protect people from tobacco smoke. They include recommendations to help people to quit using tobacco and urge countries to warn about the dangers of tobacco, enforce bans on the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of these products and raise taxes on tobacco related activities and products.  

In the Americas, the use of tobacco has reduced from 28 percent in 2000 to 16.3 percent in 2020, making the region the second lowest in tobacco consumption. However, almost 1 million of deaths are caused by tobacco in the region, said Anselm Hennis, Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health-Director, PAHO. He called for proportional response to this major threat. “The response to this enormous threat must be equally aggressive. Control measures work and we must move more quickly to implement all of them.”

Tobacco is linked to over 8 million annual deaths around the world, with 7 million of them caused by direct use and about 1.2 million from exposure to second-hand smoke.

About 13.1 percent of adult Mexicans use tobacco products, making the country the sixth highest consumer despite being one of the six PAHO members to have established national toll-free quitlines, accessible nicotine replacement therapy and cessation support services. The country also ranks third in exposure to cigarettes and e-cigarette among teenagers. Since 2021, Mexico also has comprehensive bans on the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco related products.

Products related to nicotine and tobacco such as e-cigarettes have seen an increase in supply and demand. As of Aug. 15, 2022, only seven countries in the Americas have banned the sales of these products, including Mexico. On May 31, 2022, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed an agreement to ban the circulation and marketing of vapers and e-cigarettes in the country, mentioning that up to 45 percent of children and young adults are acquainted with vapers and 6.5 percent of them already tried these products at least once, as reported by MBN.

The decision to ban e-cigarettes was met with criticism from industry experts. “The worst thing authorities can do is to implement a public health policy banning a product without effective enforcement and campaigns to generate awareness about the health risks that the product causes. With these vaping devices, the ban could create a gray or black market for them. It is always better to have a robust regulation with strict standards that are clearly communicated to the general public,” Juan Luis Serrano, Partner Life Sciences, Sanchez Devanny, told MBN.

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Rodrigo Andrade Rodrigo Andrade Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst