Page 7 - GATS Atlas Online
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The global tobacco epidemic has now assumed pandemic proportions, with about 1.3 billion tobacco users and 6 million annual deaths from tobacco use. The epidemic also involves substantial healthcare, social, and economic costs across high-, middle-, and low-income countries.
In a marked advance over the last few decades, about 90 per cent of countries now collect data on the tobacco epidemic and are increasingly using systematic, comparable data-collection systems – thanks in no small part to the Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS).
Prior to the initiation of the GTSS in 1999, there were no international, standardized surveys on the tobacco epidemic. Countries, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have undertaken surveys to monitor tobacco use and tobacco control measures among youth and adults.
This Atlas highlights the findings from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS). It reflects the impact of the select demand-reduction strategies of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which are badged by WHO as MPOWER:
Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies Protect people from tobacco smoke
Offer help to quit tobacco use
Warn about the dangers of tobacco
Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship Raise taxes on tobacco
In the seven years since the publication of the first GTSS Atlas, enormous strides have been made in adult tobacco surveillance and monitoring. In 2007, GATS was in the planning stages, but by 2014 it has amassed data from 58 per cent of the world’s adult population. Repeat surveys are already indicating trends in adult tobacco-use behavior, and there are plans for the next few years to include new countries and undertake more repeat surveys.
The Atlas outlines the many resources available for countries wishing to participate in such surveys. It will be an invaluable resource for governments, policy makers, public health practitioners, scholars, and students interested in tobacco control. Several publications have drawn upon the data, and it has been widely reported in the media. Most importantly, it has been utilized in the GATS countries themselves as a tool for informing and influencing decision makers, the general population, and the local media.
The surveys and the Atlas are successful examples of bringing a wide array of partners together: governments, researchers, donors, and international organizations. Only through this kind of cooperation and commitment can we overcome this epidemic.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Michael Bloomberg Founder, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP, and Mayor, New York City 2002–2013
Thomas R. Frieden Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Margaret Chan Director General World Health Organization

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