The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS—form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.
The UN is now working with governments, civil society, and other partners to build on this momentum to create a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace the current MDGs after 2015 until 2030.
As ASH’s Campaign Coordinator, I have been working in New York for the past year to ensure that tobacco control will be included in the new SDGs. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), for which tobacco is a leading risk factor, have gained a significant amount of attention from member states, as shown by their Open Working Group (OWG) statements. With support from ASH, the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), co-hosted an event last week along with the permanent missions of Jamaica, Belgium, and the Pacific Small Island Developing States. The purpose was to educate member states, UN representatives, and civil society about the importance of including tobacco control in the post-2015 global development agenda. The event was very well attended by influential decision makers for the comprehensive review and assessment of the progress achieved in the prevention and control of NCDs (NCD Review and Assessment) to be held in July 2014, including the co-facilitators from Jamaica and Belgium, and member states that will be drafting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
ASH has been and continues to be the sole advocate at the UN to ensure that tobacco control is not neglected. If our goal is achieved and tobacco is included in the SDGs, tobacco control will become a national priority worldwide, national tobacco control program funding will increase, and smoking prevalence will decline. This will prevent millions of premature deaths and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Clearly, it is in the best interest of governments to advocate for the inclusion of tobacco control in the SDGs. It is a win-win for the world.
ASH will keep working hard as the only group fighting to ensure that tobacco is not left out of the SDGs, but we can’t do it without you.
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