HealthBridge works with partners world-wide to improve health and health equity through research, policy and action.

Tobacco Control & NCD Prevention

Tobacco use is one of the single most preventable causes of death in the world. Given that people of low-income are more likely to use tobacco, and can afford it the least, tobacco use can also greatly worsen poverty. Tobacco cultivation and use also harm the environment.

Tobacco use is the one risk factor common to four major non-communicable diseases (NCDs): cancers, cardiovascular and lung disease, and diabetes. The other major risk factors for these devastating diseases are: physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and misuse of alcohol. 

NCDs are far from ‘diseases of the rich’: In many developing countries, the risk of dying from any of the major NCDs between the ages of 30 and 70 is double or even triple that in a typical rich country.

Fortunately, international experience has shown the most effective way to curb tobacco use: putting in place the measures in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which now has more than 175 Parties. Its measures include 100-% smoke-free spaces and bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Full implementation of the FCTC will result in healthier populations and environments, and will help to eliminate poverty.

Our strategy is to support and promote policy-based solutions for reducing all four risk factors.  We support long-term programs to build networks, work with media, conduct research, produce information, and advocate for change.  Activities include conducting research on the ways that tobacco and NCDs can worsen poverty, and producing materials on tobacco control and NCD prevention to support others, including transferring lessons learned from tobacco control to NCD prevention.

Goal

The goal of this program is to reduce the death and illness caused by NCDs, of which tobacco use is a major risk factor.  

What we do

Our work on tobacco and poverty, and ensuring that tobacco control is recognized as a development issue, is being expanded to include NCD prevention. There is growing global recognition of the importance of including tobacco control and NCD prevention in national and international development plans. 

Our work promotes policy-based NCD prevention, and highlights the importance of learning from the many years of successful tobacco control to the relatively new field of NCD prevention. We also ensure that tobacco control remains central to NCD prevention, while contributing to the evidence base on the link between NCD prevention and development issues.

Impact

Long-term support from HealthBridge has helped our partners in several countries work with their governments to ratify and implement the FCTC and create strong tobacco control policies; build local networks, and carry out research that has produced the evidence base necessary for change; and gain global recognition of the importance of including tobacco control and NCD prevention in national and international development plans.

Since 2000 HealthBridge has been an active member of the Canadian Forum for Global Tobacco Control (The Forum), an informal network of several Canadian organizations that share a common interest in global public health issues.  The impetus behind the creation of the Forum was the need to foster a cohesive Canadian civil society response to the global tobacco epidemic.

Since 2009, HealthBridge has worked closely with the Framework Convention Alliance: FCA’s central policy/advocacy and communications roles are fulfilled by HealthBridge staffs, who work closely with FCA employees and members in Africa.