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Asia Pacific Mayors commit to stronger action against tobacco to prevent NCDs and lung diseases at sixth APCAT summit

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The sixth Asia Pacific Summit of Mayors on 7 December— “Together we bring health solutions”—convened over 800 delegates from 130 cities and 19 countries, including mayors, governors, public health experts, media, and youth.

APCAT is a unique regional alliance of 78 mayors and sub-national leaders from 78 cities in 12 Asian Pacific countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. The mayors work collectively toward political commitments that offer local solutions for local problems; they are motivated by a belief that subnational leaders can create change through proper city-level governance.

“The mayors’ alliance has made great strides in promoting tobacco control throughout the Asia Pacific region,” said Kelly Larson, Bloomberg Philanthropies. “It provides a critical platform to share best practices and lesson learned.”

Summit delegates adopted the Declaration, committing subnational leaders to take stronger action on urgent health issues: advancing tobacco control; preventing NCDs; creating synergies between COVID-19 response efforts and other health and development issues; and safeguarding health and development policies and programmes from tobacco industry interference. The Declaration also emphasizes that to ward off secondary health crises, there is urgent need to sustain routine vaccination programs; ensure TB control; and prevent mother to child transmission of viral hepatitis.

“Bogor City has more than an 89% Covid vaccination rate, the highest in West Java, Indonesia,” said Dr Bima Arya Sugiarto, Mayor of Bogor City and APCAT Co-Chair. “I instructed the hospitals to identify tobacco users because they are at much greater risk of serious COVID outcomes. It was also imperative to ensure that tobacco control activities continued during the pandemic. Stopping smoking is part of Bogor City’s Covid prevention campaign.”

“Tobacco control requires multisectoral cooperation,” said Francis A Garcia, Mayor of Balanga City in Philippines, and APCAT co-chair. “Mayors and other subnational leaders who are well situated to ensure a local multisectoral response to advance tobacco control and prevent non-communicable diseases have united as APCAT.”

“Despite pandemic-related setbacks, Indonesia is committed to reducing youth smoking prevalence,” said Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Minister of Health, Republic of Indonesia. “The Ministry of Health continues to advocate for the highest possible tobacco product taxes; the adoption of 90% pictorial health warnings on tobacco packaging; the prohibition of single stick sales; and regulation of electronic cigarettes.”

“The Union strives to end tuberculosis and lung disease suffering by advancing better prevention and care. We must ensure that no one is left behind; people are treated equally; and we prioritize vulnerable and marginalised populations and communities,” said Dr Guy Marks, President of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). "These are complex problems, but policymaker’s have solutions.”

“COVID-19 and noncommunicable diseases have created a double pandemic, “said Dr Svetlana Akselrod, Director of Global NCD Platform, World Health Organization. “We are in an unprecedented time, facing crises that cannot be solved by a single country or stakeholder. Progress will only occur if we scale cooperation at the global level, convening governments, WHO and other UN agencies, civil society, academics, and the private sector.”

The 6th APCAT summit was jointly organised by Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Health and Development (APCAT), Ministry of Health, Republic of Indonesia; National Centre for Health Promotion, Ministry of Health, Cambodia; Bogor City, Indonesia; Balanga City, Philippines; Bharatpur Metropolitan, Nepal; Indonesia Mayor and Regent Alliance; Association of All Health Offices Indonesia (ADINKES), APCAT Parliamentarians, APCAT Media, Partnership for Healthy Cities and The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). The Union Asia Pacific Office is the alliance secretariat.