Guam has received special recognition from the World Health Organization for its accomplishments in tobacco control.
Every year, the WHO and global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day and a certificate and special coin were presented to the Guam Non-Communicable Disease Consortium Tobacco Control Action Team (NCD TCAT) of the Department of Public Health and Social Services.
The NCD TCAT was established in 2009 to address the burden of tobacco and nicotine use on the island.
According to an Adelup release, from 2011 to 2018, smoking among adults has declined from 35.8% to 21.9%. From 2011 to 2017, smoking among high school students also declined from 21.9% to 13.2%.
In addition, changes in policy, such as the Natasha Protection Act of 2005, increasing taxes on tobacco products, raising the minimum legal age of access to all tobacco products and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke all contributed to the significant decline.
Those policy changes were paired with education and advocacy by the NCD TCAT and the group’s new 5-year goal is to further reduce the prevalence by 20%, by 2023.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said when she was a senator, she authored the Natasha Protection Act of 2005, which banned smoking in public establishments, so she is now dedicating Guam’s award to Natasha Perez, the namesake of the anti-smoking legislation. She said this recognition from the World Health Organization is a testament to hard work and advocacy by local advocates for a smoke-free Guam.
The WNTD awards recognize individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions (Africa, Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, European, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific) for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. The annual campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form.