Today's global tobacco epidemic may represent one of the first instances of the globalization of a noninfectious cause of disease. This article focuses on the first century of the global tobacco epidemic and its current status, reviewing the current and projected future of the global tobacco epidemic and the steps that are in progress to end it. In the United States and many countries of Western Europe, tobacco consumption peaked during the 1960s and 1970s and declined as tobacco control programs were initiated, motivated by the evidence indicting smoking as a leading cause of disease. Despite this policy advancement and the subsequent reductions in tobacco consumption, the global tobacco epidemic continued to grow exponentially in the later years of the twentieth century, as the multinational companies sought new markets to replace those shrinking in high-income countries. In response, between 2000 and 2004, the World Health Organization developed its first public health treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which entered into force in 2005. An accompanying package of interventions has been implemented. New approaches to tobacco control, including plain packaging and single representation of brands, have been implemented by Australia and Uruguay, respectively, but have been challenged by the tobacco industry.


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