On World Cancer Day, experts argue World Health Organization is impeding the fight against the disease.

Strict embargo until Tuesday 4 February 00:01 CET (World Cancer Day).
On World Cancer Day, experts argue World Health Organization is impeding the fight against the disease.

On World Cancer Day (Tues 4 February 2020), the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing attention on the need to improve cancer care in low- and middle-income countries. On prevention of new cancer cases, the WHO cites “a wide range of proven interventions”, including controlling tobacco use. The statement released by the WHO to mark World Cancer Day identifies tobacco use as responsible for “25% of cancer deaths”. 1

1.1 billion people are estimated to smoke tobacco every day, of whom 80% are thought to live in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Many of these countries are not sufficiently resourced to implement and enforce tobacco control policies; numerous LMIC have large predicted populated increases, meaning the number of smokers is only likely to increase.

Despite this, the WHO refuses to recognise the potential of safer nicotine products, such as nicotine e-cigarettes, snus and heated tobacco products, in the fight against tobacco-related diseases such as cancer.

Providing access to safer nicotine products to support smokers who want to improve their health is called ‘tobacco harm reduction’. Harm reduction is not intended to replace existing tobacco control measures, but to complement them. Instead of ‘quit or die’, safer nicotine products offer smokers another choice: ‘quit and try’.

The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) project maps the regulation and use of safer nicotine products and the public health potential of tobacco harm reduction. On 23 January 2020, the project published Tobacco harm reduction and the right to health, which places tobacco harm reduction in a broader harm reduction and human rights context.

1Embargoed WHO World Cancer Day press release: WHO outlines steps to save 7 million lives from cancer, embargoed until 00:01hrs CET on 04/02/20

x
Percent of Cancer Deaths → Tobacco
x
Billion People Estimated to Smoke Tobacco Every Day

Professor Gerry Stimson, Professor Emeritus at Imperial College London and Co-Director of the GSTHR, responded to the WHO’s statement on World Cancer Day:

Embargoed until 13:00 CET (12:00 GMT) Tuesday 10 December 2019.
World Health Organization must adopt tobacco harm reduction in order to tackle NCDs.

WHO, Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs)

Today, Tuesday 10 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) publishes the final report of the WHO Independent High Level Commission on Non Communicable Diseases.

In response, the publishers of the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, which maps the regulation and use of safer nicotine products and the public health potential of tobacco harm reduction, have released the following statement.

Professor Gerry Stimson, producer of the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, said:

For further information, please contact Ruth Goldsmith, KAC Communications Manager, at [email protected] or on 00 44 78 01 84 51 92.

The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR), a biennial report and web resource mapping the global regulation and use of safer nicotine products and the public health potential of tobacco harm reduction, can be accessed here:

Tobacco harm reduction and the right to health was published on 23 January. Hard copies of the report can be requested by contacting Ruth, as above.

The GSTHR is a Knowledge-Action-Change (KAC) project. KAC is a private sector public health agency, promoting health through harm reduction. More information about the work of KAC can be accessed here:

Further information about the WHO Global Meeting to Accelerate Progress on SDG Target 3.4 on Non Communicable Diseases and Mental Health, hosted by the Government of the Sultanate of Oman (9 - 12 December 2019) in Muscat, can be accessed here: