Background and Challenges
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and it kills more than 5 million people every year worldwide. It claims 1.2 million lives in the South-East Asia Region alone as the Region is amongst the largest producers and consumers of tobacco products. The widespread use of smokeless tobacco products in the Region has complicated the tobacco control situation. On the other hand, the Region hosts more than half of the world’s poor and is also one of the most TB prevalent regions globally. As poverty and TB are closely linked to tobacco use, it has added new challenges for tobacco control. Controlling tobacco is a health priority in the Region as it is a common risk factor for all the major noncommunicable diseases and beyond its effects on morbidity and mortality, tobacco has dramatic socio-economic consequences. WHO-SEARO has been leading the tobacco control activities in the Member countries and coordinating global and regional actions against tobacco to have a positive and significant impact on health and wellbeing of the entire populations through a joint, innovative and multisectoral approach and response.
Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) Unit of WHO-SEARO is working with an aim to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, economic and environmental consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Its puts in all out efforts to reduce continually and substantially the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke through implementing effective tobacco control measures and assisting countries in their efforts to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Regional Policy Framework
The current regional framework is based on the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control, the MPOWER policy package and the Resolution adopted in the 61st session of SEA Regional Committee to implement the MPOWER policies for effective implementation of WHO FCTC. The framework is reflected in the Strategic Action Plan for Tobacco Control in South-East Asia (20101-2015). It is built on the lessons learned from the tobacco control efforts in the Region and the policy framework and action plan (2000-2004) adopted by 52nd session of the Regional Committee.