Key elements in surveillance

Research, surveillance and information exchange increase evidence-based decision- and policy-making. Tobacco control monitoring among the Parties to the WHO FCTC is essential for strengthening and ensuring the full implementation of the treaty.

Regular monitoring should address not only surveillance of tobacco use patterns and trends and exposure to tobacco smoke, but also their health impact, and the scope and implementation of tobacco control policies. Further, Parties benefit from monitoring different types of tobacco and nicotine products, and social and economic impact of tobacco and nicotine use.

Effective monitoring system can comprise of several different mechanisms and tools. These include:

  • censuses
  • surveys
  • longitudinal studies
  • civil registration and vital statistics such as records of cause of death
  • health information systems, such as patient records
  • administrative systems, such as excise tax collection records

The following principles have been seen as characteristics of an effective monitoring tool for tobacco control policies:

  • Include all relevant tobacco control policies and be regularly updated to include new policies.
  • Assess the policies against current best-practice standards.
  • Include the degree of enforcement of policy interventions.
  • Cover national-level policies as well as those of relevant subnational jurisdictions.
  • Be updated as changes occur, or at least at brief, regular intervals, while also maintaining historical information.
  • Span a sufficiently long period to enable (where appropriate) the linking of changes in tobacco control policies to changes in the prevalence of tobacco use and other impact indicators.

Source: WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2017: monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

See the brochure of the characteristics of effective tobacco control monitoring