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Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry

Edited by Jean-Francois Roulet, Poul Erik Petersen, Anton Sculean

Official journal of the World Congress of Minimally Invasive Dentistry

ISSN (print) 1602-1622 • ISSN (online) 1757-9996


Winter 2003
Volume 1 , Issue 4

Pages: 309-315
DOI: 10.3290/j.ohpd.a8668
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Tobacco and Oral Health - the Role of the World Health Organization

Petersen, P. E.

In addition to several other chronic diseases, tobacco use is a primary cause of many oral diseases and adverse oral conditions. For example, tobacco is a risk factor for oral cancer, periodontal disease, and congenital defects in children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy. The epidemic of tobacco use is one of the greatest threats to global health; sadly the future appears worse because of the globalization of marketing. The World Health Organization (WHO) has strengthened the work for effective control of tobacco use. At the World Health Assembly in May 2003 the Member States agreed on a groundbreaking public health treaty to control tobacco supply and consumption. The treaty covers tobacco taxation, smoking prevention and treatment, illicit trade, advertising, sponsorship and promotion, and product regulation. Oral health professionals and dental associations worldwide should consider this platform for their future work for tobacco prevention since in several countries they play an important role in communication with patients and communities. The WHO Oral Health Programme gives priority to tobacco control in many ways through the development of national and community programmes which incorporates oral health and tobacco issues, tobacco prevention through schools, tobacco risk assessment in countries, and design of modern surveillance systems on risk factors and oral health. Systematic evaluation of coordinated efforts should be carried out at country and inter-country levels.

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