Health systems and professionals
Health professionals, including doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, midwives and others, are highly respected and are trusted sources of information and advice in matters related to health. Many health professionals are influential community leaders and are considered role models for others. In their professional lives, they are in contact with a high percentage of the population and can be instrumental in helping people change their behaviour, particularly in quitting tobacco use.
It has been recognized that medical professionals possess the greatest potential of any group in society to promote a reduction in tobacco use and, thus, a reduction in tobacco-related mortality and morbidity. Outside of the health arena, medical professionals who have spoken out publically and lobbied for comprehensive tobacco control policies, including smoke-free public places, have undoubtedly saved millions of lives and helped to change the social norms around tobacco.
In 2004, during a meeting convened by WHO, health professional associations adopted a code of practice on tobacco control that lists 14 tangible ways in which these associations can engage in tobacco control. For example, the associations and their members should act as a role model for their patients, ensure that workplaces and public facilities are smoke- and tobacco-free, and support the political process of tobacco control, including support for the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).