Advocacy Guide for Oral Health Professionals

It is now accepted that helping tobacco users quit smoking is part of the role of health professionals, including dentists and other oral health professionals.

It is also formally recognized that tobacco cessation is part of the practice of dentistry.

In addition, oral health professional organizations have a responsibility to engage in tobacco control initiatives, including supporting political processes that lead to an environment favourable to health.

”All health professionals - individually and through their professional associations - have a prominent role to play in tobacco control. Health professionals have the trust of the population, the media and opinion leaders, and their voices are heard across a vast range of social, economic and political arenas."

Tobacco or Oral Health: An advocacy guide for oral health professionals

Tobacco or Oral HealthThis Guide, developed jointly by the FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) and the World Health Organization (WHO), provides tobacco facts, highlights the involvement of the FDI and the WHO in tobacco control initiatives, discusses the role of dentists and other oral health professionals in tobacco control, examines the role of advocacy, and provides a number of wide ranging recommendations to move the tobacco control agenda forward.


The guide is divided into 5 main chapters:

Chapter 1 provides a startling reminder of the dangers posed by tobacco consumption. Tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world. The death toll from tobacco consumption is now 4.9 million people a year. This figure is expected to climb to 10 million deaths by 2020, with most deaths occurring in developing countries. The impact of tobacco use on oral health is also illustrated. Tobacco use and its connection with oral diseases is a significant contributor to the global oral disease burden. The clear link between oral diseases and tobacco use provides an ideal opportunity for oral health professionals to become involved in tobacco control initiatives, including smoking cessation programmes.

In Chapter 2 World Health Organization's Tobacco Free Initiative (WHO TFI) illustrates its role and the role of health professionals in tobacco control. The approach of the WHO Oral Health Programme is detailed and policy approaches are highlighted.

Chapter 3 suggests that urgent and concerted action is required to reduce the disease, suffering and premature death which directly results from tobacco use. The dental team has a significant role to play in tobacco control initiatives. A guideline that provides clear advice for oral health professionals to become involved in smoking cessation programmes is detailed. Oral health professionals can easily incorporate this model into their daily clinical practice by following a simple stepwise approach. Barriers for the limited involvement of oral health professionals in tobacco cessation programmes are identified and ways to address these barriers are presented. Practical tips about setting up the dental office in order to engage in clinical tobacco interventions are also illustrated.

Chapter 4 discusses how and why advocacy should be part of all oral health professionals' toolkit. The role of oral health professional associations is emphasised and it is suggested that the first step is to shape the organization's own policies. The FDI Statement on Tobacco in Daily Practice is illustrated, as is a Code of Practice in Tobacco Control. A number of country case studies are provided including testimonies from Kenya, Germany, India, South Africa, Sweden and Fiji.

Chapter 5 proposes recommendations to oral health organizations at the global, national, and local levels. There is an urgent need to put tobacco control initiatives, including cessation programmes, on the oral health agenda. The World Health Organization and FDI World Dental Federation are providing the leadership and support for this action.

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