‘Track, trace & eliminate’ illegal tobacco trade, control unrecorded alcohol: WHO

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Sumana | Date 25-06-2024
WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus with Regional Director Saima Wazed
WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus with Regional Director Saima Wazed


New Delhi

Countries must take effective steps to track, trace, and eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products, and control unrecorded alcohol, said the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.

Regional Director Saima Wazed informed that the WHO South East Asia Region has the highest average tobacco use prevalence among adults.

“The Region accounts for 280 million smokeless tobacco users, nearly 77 per cent of the global total, and 11 million adolescent tobacco users, 30 per cent of the global total,” Saima said.

This is despite the report that tobacco use prevalence among men decreased to 43.7 per cent (from 68.9 per cent) and in women to 9.4 per cent (from 33.5 per cent) between 2000 to 2022 in the WHO SE Asia Region.

The lack of appropriate policies and tools, which are “either not in place, or not optimally implemented” is making the fight against illicit trade “a challenging and daunting task.”

However, by “devoting optimal resources to develop, implement and sustain effective ‘track and trace’ mechanisms. illicit trade can be successfully addressed,” Saima said.

The Regional Director also called on Member countries to become parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). So far, only India and Sri Lanka are parties to the WHO FCTC Protocol from the WHO SE Asia Region.

“This must be done to address both supply-side and demand-side issues, in relation to all forms of tobacco use, to ensure reduction in prevalence of tobacco consumption across our Region,” the Regional Director said.

Meanwhile, the Regional Director also noted that an estimated 25 per cent of global alcohol consumption goes unrecorded -- majorly of lower price and appealing to people from low socioeconomic status.

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This “is often irregularly labelled, and often contains unknown ethanol percentage and potentially toxic compounds”, raising health risks, especially for people with underlying alcohol use disorders.