Only 5.4% Of World's Population Covered By Comprehensive Smoke-Free Laws In 2009

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Only 5.4% of the world's population was covered by comprehensive smoke-free laws, up from 3.1% in 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today in its second report on the global tobacco epidemic. This means that 154 million more people are no longer exposed to the harms of tobacco smoke in work places, restaurants, bars and other indoor public places. Seven countries – Colombia, Djibouti, Guatemala, Mauritius, Panama, Turkey and Zambia – implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws in 2008, bringing the total to 17. These findings, and others are contained in the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2009.

"Although this represents progress, the fact that more than 94% of people remain unprotected by comprehensive smoke-free laws shows that much more work needs to be done," said WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Dr Ala Alwan. "Urgent action is needed to protect people from the death and illness cause by exposure to tobacco smoke."

WHO chose to make smoke-free environments the focus of the report because of the harm of second-hand smoke, which causes about 600,000 premature deaths per year, countless crippling and disfiguring illnesses and economic losses in the tens of billions of dollars per year.
"There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Therefore, action is needed by governments to protect their people," Dr Alwan said. "The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2009 is an essential resource."

The report devotes particular attention to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control's Article 8, which addresses protection from exposure to tobacco smoke. The Framework Convention, which took effect in 2005, is ratified by nearly 170 countries.

The report also describes countries' efforts to implement the tobacco control package called MPOWER, which WHO introduced in 2008 to help countries implement some of the demand reduction measures in the WHO Framework Convention and its guidelines.