If We Can Measure It, We Can Manage It: Tracking the Global Tobacco Epidemic

Posted on by Lauren Bartell, MPH, CHES and Emily Ridgway, MPH
Field interviewer interviewing a participant for GATS Bangladesh 2009
Field interviewer interviewing a participant for GATS Bangladesh 2009

Identified as the most preventable causes of death and disease in the world, the tobacco use epidemic is expanding to many low-and middle-income countries. Approximately 6 million people die annually from tobacco. To put this into perspective, the number of annual deaths from tobacco is equivalent to 2,699 Titanic ships sinking every year.

Participants for multiple countries at a GATS orientation workshop, learning more about the survey, its standard protocol, and implementation.
Participants for multiple countries at a GATS orientation workshop, learning more about the survey, its standard protocol, and implementation.

Surveillance has been identified as a critical step in combating the tobacco epidemic— if we can measure it, we can manage it. Over the last few decades, the number of countries collecting data on the tobacco epidemic has increased and, as it stands today, approximately 54 countries implement ongoing youth and adult surveys at least every five years. A set of tools contributing to this effort is the Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS), which has been internationally recognized as the global standard to systematically monitor youth and adult tobacco use and track key tobacco control indicators.

A component of GTSS, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) began in 2007 to systematically monitor adult tobacco use and key tobacco control measures. To date, it has expanded from the initial 14 countries to 36. To showcase its impact, and provide data in an easy-to-use format, the GATS Atlas has been created and can now be accessed online. The GATS Atlas covers 22 countries for which data were publically available in 2013. Providing data in eye-catching graphs and visuals, the GATS Atlas well illustrates the dynamics of tobacco use and tobacco control policies in a number of countries. The Atlas also highlights two country examples—Thailand and Turkey— who have conducted the survey twice, providing data to assess progress in tobacco control.

Take a look at the visualization of key highlights below:
visualization

This Atlas presents data in a user-friendly way that can guide and encourage decision makers and public health professionals in their appeal for accelerated tobacco control actions. It aims to generate discussion by not only providing a portrait of each country’s standing, but also allowing for rigorous global and regional comparisons.

This resource demonstrates the work that can be accomplished among a wide-range of governments, partners, and stakeholders. With this kind of cooperation, we can push forward to eradicate the loss of life from tobacco-related death and disease.

The GATS Atlas can be accessed here: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/global/gtss/tobacco_atlas/
Hard copies can be requested here:  http://nccd.cdc.gov/osh_pub_catalog/Home.aspx

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Posted on by Lauren Bartell, MPH, CHES and Emily Ridgway, MPHTags , ,

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Page last reviewed: June 5, 2015
Page last updated: June 5, 2015
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