3rd AP-CAT summit to rededicate efforts at tobacco control and NCD prevention

Singapore, November 29, 2018  The Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Tobacco Control and Prevention of Noncommunicable Disease [AP-CAT], the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and The Ministry of Health, Indonesia, will be hosting the 3rd AP-CAT Summit in Singapore from 4th to 6th December 2018. The event will witness the participation of government officials, Mayors, Member of Parliaments, professionals, journalists across Asia Pacific region. The discussions will be dedicated to curbing tobacco usage and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs).

Representatives from Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Laos, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Singapore will meet to discuss how best to overcome the considerable challenges to tobacco control in the region – which has some of the highest smoking rates in the world. The goal of the event is to build strong political commitment, identify new partnership opportunities, and sustainable high impact use of resources to fight tobacco use and NCDs.

AP-CAT was formed in 2016 to create a network and forum for subnational leaders working to advance tobacco control and NCD prevention. Smoke-free public places, advertising bans and policy support to national governments improving taxation on tobacco and other harmful products are within their remit. The AP-CAT membership has increased to 41 in 2018 from 12 in 2016.

Referring to the upcoming event and expected outcomes, Dr Tara Singh Bam, Deputy Director of The Union Asia Pacific office said, “Unless countries step up their efforts to control tobacco use, they will inevitably encounter higher and largely preventable financial costs to public health system and households. The Union supports countries and cities with technical assistance, capacity building, evidence-based support and connecting national and subnational leaders in actions to implement WHO best-buys”.

Looking forward to strong outcomes and developments from the event, Mr Prabodh Bhambal, Regional Director of The Union Asia Pacific, said, ‘Over the last two years, we have seen that the participants’ commitment to AP-CAT signifies increased momentum for reducing tobacco use across the region. The tobacco industry’s interference is acute in many countries across APAC, and this must be rooted out if investment in tobacco control is to be secured. Strong political leadership at the sub-national level can turn the tide. We are stronger together.”

“AP-CAT as an organization believes that mayors and regional leaders can have a direct and positive impact on the lives of millions through good city-level governance. From our previous years efforts, it has been seen that, tobacco control policies introduced and well-enforced at this level can become a powerful force for national change. We believe that Subnational leaders can play a leading role to curb the rampant growth of smoking and in-turn, reducing rates of non-communicable disease by ensuring public services are managed with protection of public health as a priority,” said, Dr. Bima Arya, Mayor of Bogor City Indonesia and Co-Chair, AP-CAT.

“Our collective action will bring public health solutions to the people,’ said AP-CAT co-chair, Francis Anthony S Garcia, mayor of Balanga city, Philippines. ‘We will work together to prevent tobacco industry interference in these life-saving policies.” 

Tobacco Smoking Facts:

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 7 million people a year. More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Around 80% of the 1.1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest. Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.

The Asian continent is home to more than 30 percent of world smokers, with more than 80 per cent of these smokers coming from lower income groups. About 10 percent of the world’s one billion smokers live in the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Male smoking rate is high in Asian countries, with Indonesian men ranked the world’s top smokers as 76% of them smoke. Indonesia and the Philippines have some of the world’s largest smoking populations. In the low and middle-income countries (LMICs) of ASEAN, more than 560,000 people died due to tobacco-related diseases in 2016 alone. A 2017 study by the WHO found that the global cost of smoking, and all its related expenses, to the world’s economies, add up to $1 trillion a year.