New Guidance on Tobacco Regulation

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new guidance on the role tobacco product regulation can play to reduce the demand for tobacco, which will save lives and raise revenues for health services to treat tobacco-related diseases.

The guide, “Tobacco product regulation: Building laboratory testing capacity,” and a collection of country approaches to regulation of menthol were released at the 2018 World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, South Africa.

Tobacco kills more than 7 million people annually, but governments can do much more to implement regulations to control tobacco use, according to WHO officials.

Dr. Vinayak Prasad, who leads WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said the failure to regulate “represents a missed opportunity as tobacco product regulation, in the context of comprehensive control, is a valuable tool that complements other tried and tested tobacco control interventions, such as raising taxes and ensuring smoke-free environments.”

According to the CDC, although the proportion of workers who smoke tobacco or who are exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace has declined over the past several decades, many workers remain susceptible to the harms of tobacco smoking.

The highest percentages of workers who smoke are in:

  • Mining (30%);
  • Accommodation and food services (30%); and
  • Construction (29.7%) industries.

Similarly, smokeless tobacco use is relatively frequent among workers in the mining (18.8%), wholesale trade (8.9%), and construction (7.9%) industries.

The use of emerging tobacco products, including hookah and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes, has increased in recent years. Despite the increased use of e-cigarettes and marketing of these products, little is known about long-term health effects. In 2014, an estimated 5.5 million working adults were current e-cigarette users. Many states have laws to prohibit smoking and tobacco use in the workplace.

Employers can also enact policies that restrict smoking and tobacco use in the workplace. NIOSH provides recommendations and resources that protect workers from the hazards of using tobacco, that help employers prevent workplace exposures to secondhand smoke, and that promote the overall well-being of workers.