The Intersection of Mobile Tech and Tobacco Control

Posted by WHOTFI on Jan 20, 2012

Editor's note: This is a guest post by Sameer Pujari, Virginia Arnold, Vinayak Prasad, and Rahoul Ahuja from the WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative.

The global tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. According to the World Health Organization's 2011 Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, tobacco kills more than 6 million people per year and is expected to increase to 8 million by 2030. It is one of the major risk factors for non-communicable diseases and is a global burden not only in developed countries, but also increasingly in developing countries. According to the World Economic Forum's "The Global Burden of Non-communicable Diseases."  NCDs are expected to cost the world more than $30 trillion (48% global GDP in 2010) over the next 20 years, posing a significant risk to economies worldwide.

In the last couple of years, the use of mobile phones in most countries, particularly in Asia and large parts of Africa, has seen an unprecedented increase. According to the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Measuring the Information Society Reports (2009 and 2011), mobile technology penetration has risen from 2% to 40% throughout much of Africa in the past decade. With more than 5.3 billion mobile phone subscriptions globally, the advantages of mobile health technology for public health, are promising because of its ubiquitous outreach.