About Tobacco Control

Tobacco control is a public health priority because:

  • Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year and accounts for 1 in 10 of all deaths.
  • Included in this death toll are some 600,000 non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke. In 2004, children accounted for 28% of these deaths.
  • More than 40% of all children have at least one parent who smokes and are regularly 
exposed to second-hand smoke at home.
  • There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known 
to be harmful, and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.
  • Without urgent action, deaths from tobacco could reach 8 million by 2030.
  • 63% of all deaths are caused by non-communicable diseases, for which tobacco use is 
one of the greatest risk factors.
  • Tobacco is a risk factor for 6 of the 8 leading causes of death worldwide. It is the single
  • most preventable cause of death in the world today.

  • 80% of tobacco deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries. 

Where is tobacco use the biggest problem:

  • Globally there are around 1 billion smokers today.
  • 80% of smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • 15 countries are home to approximately 2/3 of these smokers (in order by number of 
smokers): China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Pakistan, 
Egypt, Ukraine, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Poland.
  • Consumption of tobacco is increasing globally, although it has decreased in high- and 
upper-middle-income countries.
  • Only half of the world’s population lives in a country offering protection through the 
key measures that significantly reduce tobacco use, such as ad bans. 

International Action for Tobacco Control 

  • The world’s first public health treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), passed into law in February 2005.
  • 176 countries, representing 88% of the world’s population, are now parties to the treaty, who are legally obligated to pass, implement and enforce tobacco control legislation.
  • The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use was launched in 2006 with a US$ 125 million gift from US philanthropist Michael Bloomberg to provide support for tobacco control efforts aimed at fulfilling the requirements of the FCTC. Additional gifts in 2008 and 2012 have brought this total to $595 million in funding.
  • The World Health Organization has developed the MPOWER package of measures that are aligned with FCTC requirements and are based on proven interventions: 

    • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
    • Protect people from tobacco use

    • Offer help to quit tobacco use

    • Warn about the dangers of tobacco 
    • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship 
    • Raise taxes on tobacco.


  • 19 countries representing 425 million people have comprehensive TAPS bans. In 2008 only 80 million people were protected by such bans.
  • 101 countries have partial TAPS bans that cover national TV, radio and print.
  • 42 countries mandate pictorial health warnings.
  • 23 countries have implemented at least one strong anti-tobacco mass media campaign 
in the past two years.
  • The number of people protected from second-hand smoke has more than doubled in 
two years: from 354 million in 2008 to 739 million in 2010.
  • 59 countries are now monitoring tobacco use.
  • 27 countries have raised tobacco taxes to more than 75% of the retail price.


  • Around 38% of countries have minimal or no restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS).
  • The economic strength of the tobacco industry means that they can continue to block legislation through litigation.
  • 92 countries self-reported that they have adopted comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorship to the FCTC conference of parties. In reality, only 19 countries have fully comprehensive bans.
  • Only 19 countries meet the best practice for pictorial warnings on tobacco packages 
(local language and covers at least half of the front and back).
  • Less than 11% of the population is covered by comprehensive national smokefree 
  • 3 out of 4 smokers aware of the dangers of tobacco want to quit, but only 5% of the 
world’s population has access to comprehensive services to treat tobacco dependence.