New direct funding available for Caribbean countries to regulate tobacco

The United Nations says new funding is now available to support tobacco control implementation for low and middle-income countries, such as those in the Caribbean, through the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, currently the strongest global instrument to control tobacco.

The U.N. said that if current patterns continue, tobacco will kill about 1 billion people during the 21st century.

By 2030, 80 percent of those who die due to tobacco use will be those who live in low and middle-income countries, the U.N. warned.

The new project will be delivered by World Health through a collaboration with the United Nations Development Program and other partners, the U.N. said. One hundred and seventy nine countries and the European Union are parties to the Convention.

The U.N. said the partnership will provide support to low- and middle-income countries as they move to implement new control strategies and policies.

The Convention is expected to greatly reduce tobacco use if implemented properly, the U.N. said.

“In developing countries, the deleterious effects of tobacco are primarily treated as a health matter, which, though important, overlooks serious secondary impacts on social, economic, and environmental progress,” the U.N. said.

“Tobacco control is a development issue, and successful regulation relies on the contributions from sectors such as commerce, trade, finance, justice, and education,” it added. “This is why the international community has agreed to incorporate the implementation of the WHO FCTC throughout the entire 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, not only Goal 3, which addresses health and wellbeing.”

Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, one of the organizers of the push, said the implementation is critical in advancing sustainable development.

“Through the new project, we will take implementation of the WHO FCTC to a new level by providing support and guidance to developing country Parties,” she said.

Through the new initiative, the U.N. said low and middle-income countries will be able to create and strengthen coordination mechanisms and action across sectors to implement the plan.

Examples include treaty obligations to ban tobacco advertising and promotion, guarantees that tobacco packaging comes with health warnings, putting an end to smoking in enclosed public spaces and in the workplace, tax increases for tobacco products, and safeguards to keep public health policies free from tobacco industry interference.

Prior work by the U.N. and Parties to the Convention has revealed support in a number of areas related to social and economic development, according to the U.N.

“Efficient tobacco control measures can have positive impacts on investment and country-specific plans for increasing non-health sector engagement in order to protect health policies that are integral to the implementation of the SDGs,” the U.N. said.

Douglas Webb, Team Leader on Health and Innovative Financing at the Development Program, also welcomed the project.

“There is a growing recognition that current tobacco trends and sustainable development cannot coexist,” he said. “As a committed partner, UNDP welcomes this opportunity to advance tobacco control through better support to national planning, good governance, and protection against tobacco industry interference in policy making.”

During the next five years, the U.N. said the project will call upon governments from low- and middle-income countries to join in implementing the World Heath Organization’s plan.

The U.N. said the United Kingdom is helping to make the project possible “through generous financial contributions.”

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