Written by Dr. Indu Ahluwalia, PhD, MPH, the Chief of the Global Tobacco Control Branch in the Office on Smoking and Health of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Globally, tobacco use kills more than 8 million people per year. Through the Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS), the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides technical assistance to countries to monitor the tobacco use epidemic and other tobacco-related indicators to assess progress, challenges, and opportunities for addressing the availability and changing types of tobacco products. GTSS is the global surveillance system that systematically monitors tobacco use (smoked, smokeless, electronic products, and new and emerging products) and related key tobacco control indicators for both youths and adults.
The CDC has a long-term standing partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Knowledge Hub on Surveillance to promote systematic collection of tobacco use data and to use that data to assist the Parties to the Convention to meet their obligations under Article 20. The CDC also works in close collaboration with WHO to assist countries to implement and measure the WHO’s MPOWER demand reduction framework, to assure that countries are moving towards the goal of 30% relative reduction in tobacco use by 2025.
To address the evolving tobacco landscape, a revised GATS Comprehensive Standard Protocol, 2020 was launched May 5, 2021. This protocol was revised in partnership with WHO, RTI International, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, CDC Foundation, and other global partners.
Revisions to the GATS protocol include changes to the GATS core questionnaire, the development of optional questions for countries to use and electronic data management updates.
Changes to the GATS Core Questionnaire:
Development of Optional Questions for Countries to Use:
Electronic Data Management Updates
Along with the revised GATS Protocol, the GATS Standard Protocol Training Series was also launched May 5, 2021. This 10-module training series is based on the standard presentation given during the GATS orientation and can be used to educate all GATS team members and partners about each part of the GATS implementation process.
The updated protocol strengthens the ability for countries to measure and assess the potential effect of the changing tobacco control landscape to provide evidence for enforcing the reduction measures outlined by the WHO FCTC. The WHO’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) encourages countries to aim for a 30% relative reduction in tobacco use from their baseline prevalence by 2025. In addition, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals also call for strengthening the implementation of the WHO FCTC to reduce tobacco use. The surveillance data from GTSS remains critical for many countries to measure progress in meeting the global targets and in improving public health.
About the author:
Indu Ahluwalia, PhD, MPH
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Ahluwalia is the Chief of the Global Tobacco Control Branch in the Office on Smoking and Health. She is responsible for guiding the scientific work of the branch, including tobacco surveillance, translation of data to usable information, and providing technical assistance for capacity enhancement.
Dr. Ahluwalia has been with CDC since 1995 when she joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service. From 2008 until she joined Office on Smoking and Health in 2015, Dr. Ahluwalia served as a Senior Scientist in the Division of Reproductive Health where she provided leadership to the PRAMS team and led projects with the March of Dimes and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Her work building and sustaining partnerships has resulted in key improvements in using public health surveillance data to address gaps in services and programs.
Dr. Ahluwalia has a PhD in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill and an MPH in Epidemiology and International Health from Yale University.