European countries gather in Ashgabat to assess progress in tobacco control

The first anniversary of the project "Implementation of the Ashgabat Declaration: towards a tobacco-free European Region" was marked at a two-day European regional meeting in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on 28–29 April 2016. The meeting focused on sharing the latest developments in tobacco control in European countries and discussing the way forward to reach the global voluntary target in tobacco use by 2025.

This is a great challenge as the WHO European Region has demonstrated a low level of implementation of the global commitment to tobacco control, and has the highest number of adult smokers globally at 28%.

This was the first European regional gathering after the adoption of a roadmap of actions to strengthen tobacco control. The event gathered more than 100 people, among them 37 countries, partner organizations and international tobacco control experts. In his welcoming speech, the Minister of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan, Dr Nurmuhammet Amannepesov, noted recent achievements of Turkmenistan in tobacco control, and stressed the importance of multisectoral collaboration, as well as the continuous support of the WHO Regional Office for Europe in becoming a tobacco-free country by 2025.

A year of progress

Progress has been considerable since the tobacco control project was launched during the International Health Forum in July 2015.

  • The Roadmap of actions 2015-2025 was adopted.
  • A manuscript for a tobacco-free millennial generation was finalized.
  • A subregional meeting of the south-eastern Europe (SEE) countries was held in November 2015 to scale up implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in the SEE Health Network countries.
  • A subregional meeting of 12 newly independent state countries on tackling the legal issues regarding implementation of WHO FCTC was held in Turkmenistan in December 2015.
  • A project modelling the effect of tobacco control policies in the SEE countries was launched.

During the meeting, participants discussed current tobacco control issues in the WHO European Region, for example, the tobacco industry's interference in health policy-making, the Protocol on the Elimination of Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and plain packaging of tobacco products.

The meeting was funded by the Government of Turkmenistan and organized with the collaboration of WHO/Europe and the WHO Country Office in Turkmenistan.