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The goal of the Department of Tobacco Control is to reduce tobacco use - and the disease, premature death and poverty it causes. The most effective way to achieve this is through introduction and implementation of comprehensive tobacco control policies that are proven to tackle both supply and demand. Effective legislation will also change the behaviours and environments conducive to tobacco consumption.

The tobacco epidemic

The tobacco epidemic is having devastating impacts across the globe, with low- and middle-income countries [LMICs] facing a disproportionate burden. Currently 80% of all tobacco-attributed deaths occur in LMICs. Many of these countries are faced with rising affordability of tobacco products as well as an aggressive tobacco industry that targets both consumers and governments.

Rates of tobacco use continue to rise in low- and middle-income countries, while, thanks to progressive tobacco control policies, high-income countries have seen rates drop considerably over the last 20 years.


‘Cigarette consumption in Western Europe dropped by 33% between 1980 and 2016 but increased in China by 20% during the same period.’ 

Tobacco Atlas, 6th edition.


The Union’s focus

The Department of Tobacco Control works with both governments and civil society across the globe to assist with the development of comprehensive tobacco control laws, and the infrastructure needed to implement them. We offer the technical assistance and capacity-building, based on international best practice, through our team of legal, financial and managerial experts. The department also publishes research and technical resources to support programme development.

Our key policies are defined by the WHO FCTC’s MPOWER package – a range of six practical measures to help countries implement effective tobacco control. Implementation of the highest-level MPOWER policies adopted between 2007 to 2010 is expected to reduce tobacco use prevalence by 30%, or 173 million people, by 2025.


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The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office, Edinburgh, registered charity no. SC039880
ⓒ Copyright 2015 The Union