WHO steps up fight against tobacco

Why in news

The World Health Organization has launched new guidelines on the role that tobacco product regulations can play in reducing tobacco demand, saving lives and raising revenues for health services to treat tobacco-related diseases.



  • The new guide, titled ‘Tobacco product regulation: Building laboratory testing capacity’, and a collection of country approaches to regulation of menthol in tobacco products, presented in the publication, titled ‘Case studies for regulatory approaches to tobacco products — Menthol in tobacco products’, were launched at the 2018 World Conference on Tobacco or Health recently.
  • Douglas Bettcher, WHO’s Director of the Department for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), said: “These new tools provide useful resource to countries to either introduce or improve existing tobacco product regulation provisions and end the tobacco industry’s ‘reign’.”
  • Most countries hesitate to implement policies, due in part to the highly technical nature of such policy interventions and the difficulties in translating science into regulation, explained Dr. Vinayak Prasad, who leads WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative. “Failure to regulate represents a missed opportunity as tobacco product regulation, in the context of comprehensive control, is a valuable tool that complements other tried and tested tobacco control interventions, such as raising taxes, and ensuring smoke-free environments,” he added.
  • The new guidelines provide practical, stepwise approaches to implementing tobacco testing. Such guidance is relevant to a wide range of countries in various settings, including those with inadequate resources to establish a testing facility.
  • The laboratory guide has comprehensible information on how to test tobacco products, what products to test, and how to use testing data in a meaningful way to support regulation.

National Tobacco Control Programme

As the implementation of various provisions under COTPA lies mainly with the State Governments, effective enforcement of tobacco control law remains a big challenge. To strengthen implementation of the tobacco control provisions under COTPA and policies of tobacco control mandated under the WHO FCTC, the Government of the India piloted National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in 2007-2008.  The programme is under implementation in 21 out of 35 States/Union territories in the country. In total, 42 districts are covered by NTCP at present. This was a major leap forward for the tobacco control initiatives in the country as for the first time dedicated funds were made available to implement tobacco control strategies at the central state and substate levels.

The main components of the NTCP were

National level

  • Public awareness/mass media campaigns for awareness building and behavior change.
  • Establishment of tobacco product testing laboratories, to build regulatory capacity, as mandated under COTPA, 2003.
  • Mainstreaming the program components as part of the health care delivery mechanism under the National Rural Health Mission framework.
  • Mainstream Research and Training on alternate crops and livelihoods in collaboration with other nodal Ministries.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation including surveillance e.g. Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India.

State level

  • Tobacco control cells with dedicated manpower for effective implementation and monitoring of anti-tobacco laws and initiatives.

District level

  • Training of health and social workers, SHGs, NGOs, school teachers etc.
  • Local IEC activities.
  • Setting up tobacco cessation facilities.
  • School Programme.
  • Monitoring tobacco control laws.


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