Health leaders, policymakers, cardiologists and tobacco activists from around the world have convened at the World Congress of Cardiology & Cardiovascular Health (WCC 2016) in Mexico City to call for stronger tobacco control laws

Smoking is estimated to cause nearly 10 per cent of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and is the second leading cause of CVD after high blood pressure

Experts from around the world have come together at the World Heart Federation’s World Congress of Cardiology & Cardiovascular Health (WCC 2016) to call for more to be done to fight tobacco industry interference and strengthen tobacco control laws.

Tobacco is one of the world’s most prolific killers, responsible for six million deaths globally each year, and is the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD)[1]. If current trends continue, by 2030 tobacco will be responsible for more than 8 million deaths each year[2].

 

Strengthening tobacco control laws is one of the simplest, most cost-effective ways to save lives and improve the health of populations, but unfortunately the tobacco industry continues to try to block tobacco control legislation using tactics such as encouraging the illicit tobacco trade, attempting to hijack legislation or exploit loopholes, exaggerating the economic importance of the industry and discrediting scientific research[3]. 

 

At WCC 2016 health experts at the forefront of the fight against tobacco shared practical examples of the challenges they faced and the solutions that are now saving lives, including how they have used WHF’s roadmap on tobacco control. This roadmap, based on the global tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, indicates clear routes of action for reducing death and disability from heart disease caused by tobacco, and calls upon different groups to coordinate action to accelerate implementation of the treaty. 

Speaking at Congress, Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, said: “The struggle against the consumption of tobacco only really moves forward when there is a robust response from a wide alliance of professionals willing to offer their time and expertise to counter the tobacco industry’s litany of self-serving untruths.

“When an eminent physician speaks, most people will listen and consider the message. This is what weighs in the balance against the money and advertising of the tobacco industry. The advocacy of cardiologists and health campaigners is our low-cost response to this powerful enemy, and yet it is invaluable.”

Also speaking at Congress, Dr Eduardo Bianco, Framework Alliance for Tobacco Control (FCA)’s regional Director for the Americas and co-author of the World Heart Federation’s CVD roadmap explained how Uruguay’s global leadership in implementing the tobacco control treaty helped reduce hospital admissions for heart attacks in the country by 22% in two years, while rates increase elsewhere[4].

Sharing his personal experience of implementing some of the most stringent tobacco control measures in the world, President Vazquez of Uruguay said: “Tobacco consumption causes 6 million deaths every year and has resulted in cumulative damage to public health for over 60 years. We have approached this battle very seriously in Uruguay and I’m pleased to say, as a direct result, have reduced tobacco consumption among young people from 22.8% to 8.2% in less than 10 years.”

While in Mexico the World Heart Federation will aim to leave a lasting legacy by using its Congress as a platform to support adoption of a national tobacco control law, supporting the #LibredeHumo campaign to make Mexico smoke-free. 

 

Dr Salim Yusuf, President of the World Heart Federation said: “The World Heart Federation is committed to reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 25% by 2025 and reducing tobacco use by 30% or more is key to saving millions of lives.

 

“To enable this we need to persuade political leaders to stand firm in the face of pressure from the tobacco industry.”