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Challenges to Current and Future Tobacco Control

11 Mar 2019

In 2016, 5.5 trillion cigarettes were consumed worldwide — enough for each man, woman and child to smoke two cigarettes every day. The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 7 million people a year.

With this important health issue in mind, the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health organised a Public Health Thought Leadership Dialogue (PHTLD) on the topic of tobacco control on 6 March 2019.

Titled ‘Challenges to Current and Future Tobacco Control’, the 8th instalment of the School’s PHTLD series featured guest speaker Professor Kenneth Warner, Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Public Health and Dean Emeritus, University of Michigan School of Public Health.


Prof Warner giving an outline of his talk

Prof Warner kicked off the event by setting the scene of current and future tobacco control opportunities and obstacles, and examined global and regional data on smoking behaviour. Turning to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, one of the principal influences on tobacco consumption, he then assessed how well the 181 countries that have ratified the treaty are doing in terms of compliance with its requirements.

Following the talk was a panel discussion moderated by Professor Chia Kee Seng, Founding Dean. The other panellists were Dr Derrick Heng, Group Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Singapore; Mr Sim Beng Khoon, Director, Preventive Health Programmes Division, Health Promotion Board; and Dr Yvette van der Eijk, Senior Research Fellow, NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.


Panellists discussing a question submitted by a member of the audience

Using the World Health Organization’s MPOWER measures of tobacco control, the dialogue summarised the current position of individual countries and opportunities where collective approaches may add value.

Most Southeast Asian countries have already started implementation of the MPOWER measures. While there has been positive progress to reduce smoking prevalence, there is a wide variation between countries and between males and females. The panel explored the varying degrees of implementation, as well as some of the challenges and enablers to achieve full implementation.

The panellists then took part in a thoughtful debate around a ‘tobacco endgame’, which is when smoking prevalence is at a very low level, such as below 5% of the adult population. This concept evolves from control of tobacco measures toward a date-linked goal of a tobacco-free future. Singapore’s approach of raising the minimum legal age to purchase cigarettes, with the aim of encouraging a smoke-free generation, sits alongside this new concept. The debate also included a rich dialogue on the use of vapes, e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products. 

At the end of the event, Dean, Professor Teo Yik Ying presented each of the panellists with a token of appreciation from the School.

For our distinguished guest speaker, tobacco control advocate and ‘anti-smoking’ champion, the School commissioned a clay figurine of Prof Warner breaking an oversized cigarette as a symbol of and tribute to his tireless contributions and immense impact he has made in the field of tobacco control advocacy.


Dean, Prof Teo presents Prof Warner with a special token of appreciation, a symbol of and tribute to his steadfast commitment and lifelong campaign to combatting public health issues posed by tobacco use.


From left: Mr Sim Beng Khoon, Director, Preventive Health Programmes Division, Health Promotion Board; Dr Derrick Heng, Group Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Singapore; Dr Yvette van der Eijk, Senior Research Fellow, SSHSPH; Prof Chia Kee Seng, Founding Dean, SSHSPH; Prof Kenneth Warner, Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Public Health and Dean Emeritus, University of Michigan School of Public Health; Prof Teo Yik Ying, Dean, SSHSPH

View more photos in our Facebook album here.

Watch Public Health Thought Leadership Dialogue: Challenges to Current and Future Tobacco Control.

 

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