Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


WHO urges complete ban on tobacco marketing

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 11 July 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4493

Rapid Response:

Re: WHO urges complete ban on tobacco marketing

The deleterious effects of tobacco are now no secret and do not need further discussion. As a medical doctor, I have seen many families suffer and people dying only because they did not heed the statutory warning of "Smoking Kills" or the many different varieties of these these that are now everywhere. The WHO predicts that more than 8 million people are scheduled to die by 2030 worldwide due to tobacco [1]. It is indeed shameful and worthy of being condemned that WHO continues to do lip service by just pushing for ban of tobacco marketing in various forms. Why not ban tobacco altogether?

The WHO has no qualms about banning a drug when a clinical trial shows even a faint hint of cancer. The principles of equity and justice demands that tobacco - a potent drug repeatedly proven to cause a variety of cancers - is banned totally. In spite of this the WHO continues to publish some reports every few years claiming success in tobacco control without ever even trying to enforce complete ban of tobacco in all forms.

A lot of discussion is now on about the availability of clinical trial data in the public domain and I am myself a vociferous supporter of it. However acquiring all data and analyzing it does not make any sense at all if it is not acted upon. The truth for tobacco control remains as it was about fifty years back when there was so much confusion about what harms tobacco causes or to what extent. And the truth in the words of a noted novelist is " one of the most potent and common carcinogens (tobacco) known to humans can be freely bought and sold at every corner store for a few dollars. " [2]

References :

1.World Health Organisation. WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2011: warning about the dangers of tobacco.
2. Mukherjee S. The Emperor of all maladies. Harper Collins Publisher, 2011.274

Disclaimer : Opinions expressed are in my own individual capacity.

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 November 2013
Soumyadeep Bhaumik
Senior Research Scientist
South Asian Cochrane Network and Centre
Prof. B V Moses Centre for Evidence-Informed Healthcare,Christian Medical College, Vellore, India