WHO Director-General; Minister of Health of SA; and WHO Ambassador for NCDs to Participate in The World´s Leading Conference on Tobacco Control

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The 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) to be held for the first time in Africa where tobacco industry interference is endemic

Organisers of the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, 7-9
March in 2018, today announced the attendance of WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, South Africa Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Michael R. Bloomberg, a leading actor on tobacco control and WHO Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases.

For the past 50 years, WCTOH has been the premier international forum on tobacco control and next year’s event – the first to be held on the African continent – is expected to attract over 2000 researchers, scientists, civil society, healthcare professionals, policymakers and media representatives from around 100 countries. Tobacco use is the world’s leading preventable cause of death killing more than seven million people each year.

“This conference is being held at a critical time, both in the war on tobacco and the drive to protect public health,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Countries have stepped up action to beat back the tobacco epidemic. But more is needed. By embracing the Sustainable Development Goals, governments have committed to promoting healthier and stronger futures for their citizens. Tobacco control offers one of the surest ways to achieve such ambitions.”

The theme of the conference is Uniting the World for a Tobacco-Free Generation with an overarching focus on expediting progress to reduce tobacco use in all populations around the world – using new research and innovative approaches in public health, as well as powerful but under-used policies, including tobacco taxation and those aimed at preventing industry interference.

Michael Bloomberg will preside over the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Awards for Global Tobacco Control during WCTOH. The awards recognise leading organisations in low- andmiddle-income countries doing best in class work on the most effective tobacco control policies, collectively known as MPOWER measures:

 Monitoring of tobacco use and prevention policies
 Protecting people from tobacco smoke
 Offering help to quit tobacco use
 Warning about the dangers of tobacco
 Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
 Raising taxes on tobacco

While tobacco use is decreasing in many countries, smoking rates in Africa are anticipated to rise dramatically. By 2030 the number of smokers in the region is projected to increase by 40 percent from 2010 levels, unless there is significant intervention. Africa continues to be aggressively targeted by the tobacco industry, as it represents an opportunity for considerable market growth.

Dr Flavia Senkubuge, President of the 17th WCTOH and a specialist in Public Health Medicine at the University of Pretoria, South Africa said: “The developing world continues to be the most urgent battleground for those working in tobacco control. We are delighted to have the commitment of three such prominent public health champions at the inaugural WCTOH conference to be held in the Africa region.”

Professor Harry Lando, Chair of the 17th WCTOH organising committee said: “We are confident that the high quality of the science being presented in Cape Town will complement the advocacy around WCTOH – we need both, if we are to make bigger strides in tobacco control, especially in this part of the world.”

Some of the scientific highlights being featured at WCTOH include a novel study around HIV and smoking in South Africa, e-cigarette use and young people, and the impact of tobacco taxation and point-of-sale changes on consumers.

The scientific programme can be viewed online now.

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