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Updated: March 5, 2012

Business Group Target Countries
Global Tobacco Use
Global Tobacco Policies
Global Tobacco Initiatives

Business Group Target Countries

The National Business Group on Health created the Global Business Group on Health (formerly Global Health Benefits Institute) to meet the growing needs of global corporations through collaborative information exchange, joint problem solving, and the development of innovative approaches to health concerns outside the United States. Several countries were selected by members of the Global Business Group as a primary focus for collaborative work. These same countries are highlighted on this website to structure the global content on tobacco use and cessation.

Global Tobacco Use

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).1 Tobacco use is a primary risk factor for a number of chronic diseases: cancers, lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

The World Health Organization estimates that there are one billion smokers in the world, with over 80% living in low and middle income countries.2 Total consumption of tobacco products is increasing worldwide, although it is decreasing in some high- and upper-middle income countries.2 Globally, one person dies every 6.5 seconds from tobacco use.3 If current trends continue, smoking will cause 6.4 million deaths annually by 2030.4

The connection between tobacco use, poor health and reduced productivity is well-documented both in the U.S. and globally. As a result, large employers are interested in eliminating tobacco use among employees. Tobacco cessation is increasingly being offered as a part of company-sponsored health benefits and wellness programs. Additionally, companies are also increasingly establishing policies limiting or eliminating tobacco use at the worksite and on company-owned or leased properties.

WHO Regional Databases

Tobacco use and cessation is viewed differently around the world. To organize its resources, the World Health Organization divides the globe into six major regions. Regional databases provide information about tobacco-related issues like smoking prevalence, legislation, economics, cessation and general tobacco control policy. Employers should look to these databases as cessation resources.

Global Tobacco Policies

The World Health Organization states that:
"The most cost-effective strategies are population-wide public policies, like bans on direct and indirect tobacco advertising, tobacco tax and price increases, smoke-free environments in all public and workplaces, and large clear graphic health messages on tobacco packaging."

Source: World Health Organization. Why is tobacco a public health priority? Available at: Accessed May 23, 2011

Historically, tobacco control actions and activities occurred at the country level. A number of countries did pass legislation restricting tobacco advertising, regulating who can purchase and use tobacco products and where people could smoke.5 The smoking epidemic's globalization rendered this approach ineffective and slow. To organize global cessation efforts, the World Health Organization's (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) treaty, the first of its kind to encourage countries to reduce tobacco-related deaths and disease around the world, was adopted unanimously by the World Health Assembly on May 21, 2003. It obligates countries to adopt policies that restrict tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion; create new labels and packaging for tobacco products; impose indoor air controls and make a commitment to reduce tobacco smuggling. More than 170 of the WHO's member states are parties to the Framework.

Global Tobacco Initiatives

Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)
  • TFI was established in July 1998 by the WHO to focus international attention, resources, and action on the global tobacco epidemic.
  • The three main goals of TFI are to provide global policy leadership, promote the WHO Framework on Tobacco Control, and encourage worldwide collaboration to end tobacco use.
  • The Initiative works closely with the WHO's regional offices, to plan and implement tobacco cessation activities in each of the countries.

World No Tobacco Day
The Member States of the WHO created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to bring worldwide attention to the tobacco epidemic and the health consequences that ensue from tobacco use. It is currently celebrated around the world every year on May 31st. Each year has a different theme to highlight the different issues to which tobacco is linked.


National Business Group on Health
Global Business Group on Health (formerly the Global Health Benefits Institute)

The Institute for Global Tobacco Control (IGTC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has developed free instructional training (Global Tobacco Control: Learning from the Experts) for policy makers, researchers, educators and the public about developing and implementing effective tobacco control programs, advocating for anti-smoking regulations and crafting media campaigns that make a difference. These materials are available in all six official United Nations languages.

The Millennium Development Goals and Tobacco Control
This report discusses the importance tobacco control plays in completing each of the eight United Nations Millennium Development goals. It also outlines the increasingly high use of tobacco in the developing world, and the connection between tobacco use, poverty, and development.


1 World Health Organization. Cancer. Accessed May 23, 2011.
2 World Health Organization. Tobacco Fact Sheet. May 2011. Accessed May 23, 2011.
3 World Health Organization. The tobacco health toll. Accessed May 23, 2011.
4 Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Click here. April 2011. Accessed May 23, 2011.
5 World Health Organization. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). Accessed May 23, 2011.
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