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Study urges WHO to review strategies on tobacco use control

The Institute for Tobacco Studies (ITS) in Täby, Sweden urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to review its strategies in combating tobacco use.

In a topical paper published on Qeios, the agency particularly suggested that WHO look at the Swedish experiences of large-scale transition from cigarettes to smokeless alternatives to reduce smoking-related deaths. The ITS is an independent consultancy that works with scientific research on tobacco use and control by performing its own studies.

«The best example of how products that don't burn tobacco can benefit public health comes from Sweden, which has the lowest smoking prevalence among men in the European Union and consequently the lowest tobacco-related mortality,» it said

A report said that Sweden slashed its smoking rates from 15 percent in 2008 to 5.6 percent in 2023.

Europe's average smoking rate is 23 percent, which is almost five times higher than Sweden's.

Dr. Lars Ramström, the principal investigator of ITS and a former WHO expert and secretary general of the fourth World Conference on Smoking and Health, started the ITS in 1991.

In its recent study, it said «WHO needs to apply all science-based strategies to reduce tobacco-related deaths.»

The WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) entered into force on February 27, 2005 and is one of the most widely adopted treaties in the United Nations system.

The FCTC is a legally binding treaty that requires countries to implement evidence-based measures to reduce tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

While the measures for demand and supply reduction recommended by the WHO are important tools, the paper said the strategy as a whole is ineffective without harm reduction, which is the third pillar of tobacco control stated in Article 1(d) of FCTC.

The WHO's view, largely reflected in FCTC COP10 reports and decisions, is that these products are a danger to public health.

«However, an increasing number of scientists and national governments believe that these new products represent an opportunity that can accelerate the demise of smoking. Because they don't burn tobacco, they are estimated to be far less harmful than smoking. To the extent that they can