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WHO: Guidelines for Controlling and Monitoring the Tobacco Epidemic

WHO: Guidelines for controlling and monitoring the tobacco epidemic (1998)

One of the first comprehensive guides for implementing  and managing tobacco control policies and programmes was published by the World Health Organization in 1998. The book provides practical guidelines for implementing and improving tobacco control policies, and obtaining data on the effects and prevalence of tobacco use to support those measures.

The general principles and suggestions proposed in this book can be adapted to individual countries’ needs. The guidelines are intended to support the implementation of tobacco control strategies and programmes both in countries that are experiencing a tobacco epidemic, as well as in countries that want to prevent it. The guide reviews experiences of various countries, and based on the experiences introduces practices and aspects that are essential in successfully implementing tobacco control programmes and strategies. 

The first part of the guide focuses on the definitions and main elements of the tobacco epidemic. The book discusses practical ways to assess the tobacco situation in a country, and to develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive, multi-sectoral tobacco control programmes based on the current needs. The guide also introduces arguments and information needs to support the necessity of tobacco control policies.  

The second part of the book introduces methods for data collection and analysis that are needed to support tobacco control policies. The primary focus in the second part of the book is on epidemiological surveillance, i.e. assessing the health impacts of the tobacco epidemic. The guide gives an overview of the methods, indicators and information sources for monitoring and documenting tobacco and its effects. This includes guidance on

  • collecting information about the epidemic’s evolution among the population,
  • using trade and production data to measure tobacco consumption,
  • conducting population surveys on tobacco use prevalence, and
  • accessing data on tobacco related morbidity and mortality.

The main focus of the guide is on disease prevention and control, and the guidelines promote to long-term national health strategies. The book is based on the understanding that the tobacco epidemic has not only negative health impacts, but it also causes economic and social costs within the society.

The guide draws on the relatively long history of scientific evidence proving that tobacco is a major contributing factor for several diseases. Even though the knowledge about harms of tobacco use has been accumulated since the early 1950s, only modest success had been achieved through tobacco control measures up to the end of 1990s. This guide addresses the need for general principles, recommendations and guidelines for implementing effective tobacco control programmes, which later served as a basis for the WHO FCTC.

Source: World Health Organization. (‎1998)‎. Guidelines for controlling and monitoring the tobacco epidemic. Geneva : World Health Organization.

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