Tobacco use is the single greatest cause of preventable death worldwide – a risk factor not only for lung diseases, such as emphysema and lung cancer, but also for a host of other diseases. More than 5 million people die each year due to tobacco-related illnesses, the vast majority of them in low- and middle-income countries.
The Union has been active in tobacco control for more than 25 years, and in 1996 it established a department devoted to this issue. Its focus has been identifying practical strategies for low- and middle-income countries to achieve tobacco control and disseminating this information through technical assistance, education and applied research.
Since late 2006, The Union has played an active role in the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, working to implement tobacco control interventions in the countries with the highest burden of tobacco-related diseases.
In addition, The Union has conducted extensive research on the links between smoking and tuberculosis, the effects of smoking on TB treatment outcomes, the efficacy of brief cessation advice, and other topics.
The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office in Edinburgh with a staff of more than 100 technical consultants, programme managers, policy and communication experts working out of Union offices in China, Egypt, France, India, Mexico, Russia and Singapore.