The WCTOH2015 Experience

The 2015 World Conference on Tobacco OR Health (WCTOH) in Abu Dhabi brought together more than 3,000 tobacco control advocates, researchers, public health officials and policy makers from all over the world to focus on fighting tobacco use. Representatives of 18 Global Bridges grant projects attended the WCTOH and shared their reactions with the Global Bridges community in a recent survey.

Global Bridges grantees attending WCTOH were inspired and encouraged by the presentation of the first “O” Award (for “Offer” help to stop) during the Bloomberg Philanthropies MPOWER Awards for Global Tobacco Control. One grantee noted the growing consensus that supporting the “O” in the World Health Organization’s MPOWER framework is gaining importance and attention, as progress is made in other policy areas and demand for cessation support increases as a result.

There are still many challenges facing the treatment community and, more broadly, tobacco control.  As researchers and clinicians who are close to the patients most in need of cessation support, grantees emphasized the need for improved access to treatment among special populations, including pregnant women, those with chronic and other diseases and people with mental health disorders.

WCTOH provided opportunities for grantees to learn more about challenges to the fight against tobacco, particularly the difficulties of enacting public health laws against tobacco use. One grantee noted, “I always thought that it would be easy to just stop tobacco legally. From the presentations and discussions on tobacco industry lawsuits against various countries, I learned this is not the case. [It’s now clear that] public education is needed on the dangers of tobacco use and that reducing/eliminating use is relevant.”

Global Bridges grantees agreed that WCTOH is an important forum for tobacco control, offering opportunities to network with other professionals and share their experience and new ideas.

The next WCTOH is scheduled to take place in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018.