Tobacco control has evolved over the last 30 years from sporadic acts by activists and isolated action by some governments to a mainstream public health issue, with known, proven, cost-effective measures. Needed now is a coherent public health strategy designed to reduce tobacco consumption, involving international, regional, national, and local actors involved in strategic planning, policy-oriented research, capacity building, funding, enforcement, and evaluation.
Surveillance is essential to support sound policy. Almost half of all countries have monitoring systems enhanced by research initiatives such
as GYTS, GATS, and STEPS. Yet research on tobacco continues to be underfunded throughout the world.
Core funding for the development and implementation of public health policy must come from governments themselves. In addition to academic research, various philanthropic organizations have funded policy-oriented research and tobacco control projects. As of
press time, Bloomberg Philanthropies has funded many projects in more than 40 countries. Philanthropist Michael Bloomberg and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s commitment of $500 million over seven years (2006–2013) more than triples the available resources to control tobacco in low- and middle-income countries.
The UN High-Level Meeting on noncommunicable diseases in 2011 offered a unique opportunity to move tobacco forward strategically in the framework of other NCD issues, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, physical activity, alcohol, and unhealthy diets
(see Topic – Rights and Treaties).
Measure the distances. Estimate the expenses. Evaluate the forces. Assess the possibilities. Plan for victory.General Sun Tzu, Art of War, China,Circa 500 BCE