People have died from tobacco-related diseases since the opening of the first FCTC working group on 28 October 1999.
In the past five years nearly 1.3 billion more people worldwide have become covered by a tobacco control measure in their country, says the latest report on the tobacco epidemic by the World Health Organization.
In total, more than 2.3 billion people –a third of the world's population – are now covered as fully as possible by at least one of six measures in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) singled out by the report, the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2013.
"We're making progress globally, but not nearly as fast as we could and should be," said Laurent Huber, Director of the Framework Convention Alliance. "Tobacco is still on course to kill hundreds of millions of people during the 21st century. The tragedy is that the countries of the world have agreed what needs to be done – but implementation is slower than it should be."
The report describes four possible levels of implementation for each measure: No policy, Minimal policies, Moderate policies and Complete policies. It focuses on the following measures:
• Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies;
• Protect people from tobacco smoke (smoke-free measures);
• Offer help to quit tobacco use;
• Warn people about the dangers of tobacco;
• Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and
• Raise taxes on tobacco.
The findings illustrate that "any country can establish an effective tobacco control programme to reduce tobacco use, regardless of its political structure or income level", concludes the report.
However, it also notes that more than half of countries that have implemented tobacco control measures do not yet provide complete protection for people on any one of the six measures. "While the number of people covered by high-level measures has increased substantially, two-thirds of the world's population have yet to be fully protected in any one area, let alone all of them," the report adds.
For example, only 14 countries and one territory, whose populations total 166 million people, have increased their tax rates to sufficiently high levels in the past five years, says the report. Only six countries with 29 million people have done so in the past two years.
Increasing the price of tobacco products is widely considered to be the most effective way to curb tobacco consumption.
A recent report found that adoption of the six measures at the highest level, from 2007 to 2010, will result in 15 million fewer smokers, and 7.4 million premature deaths will consequently be averted by 2050. It also stressed that the policies having the greatest impact – smoke-free air laws and taxation – "are alarmingly under-adopted".
Only 11 percent of the world's population is protected by SFA laws and less than 8 percent resides in countries with the recommended minimum tobacco tax rates.
WHO has also estimated that Implementing four measures in the WHO FCTC (raise taxes, create smoke-free spaces, warn people about the danger of tobacco, and ban advertising, promotion and sponsorship) would prevent more than five million deaths in 23 large low- and middle-income countries from 2006 to 2015.
The cost of implementing those four interventions would be less than US$0.40 per person per year in low-income and lower-middle income countries (in upper-middle income countries the cost is USD 0.5-1.0 per person per year). According to WHO, all four constitute "best buys", with excise tax increases on tobacco products and smoke-free indoor environments being the most cost-effective.