Implementation of WHO - FCTC Article 20 in Albania: Needed actions to fill an existing gap
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Department of Healthcare, Faculty of Public Health, University of Vlora, Albania
Clinic of Social and Family Medicine, Medical School, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
Publication date: 2020-10-22
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(Supplement):A104
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Albania ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) in 2006. Article 20 deals with surveillance and research on all tobacco products including smokeless tobacco. Tobacco use is high in Albania, with the Institute of Public Health (IPH) monitoring at national level. Since 2014 the IPH has implemented a comprehensive tobacco control program, which is permanently evaluated. This study aims to evaluate the implementation of WHO-FCTC Article 20 in Albania.

A health policy analysis was conducted. A scoping search took place in the PubMed database, and Albanian Institute of Public Health reports for articles and policy documents published after 2006 on tobacco consumption in Albania. The articles were categorized as: smoking prevalence reports/articles, tobacco control policy articles, smoking-related diseases articles and articles published with the contribution of the academic staff of the Albanian universities.

The literature search identified 37 PubMed articles. Seven articles were reporting the smoking prevalence in Albania, ten focused on tobacco control policies, and 20 were about smoking-related diseases. Only six were published at the academic level with the participation of Tirana and/or Vlora University health departments.
Since 2006, six reports were published from IPH. They were reporting on the health status of the Albanian population while cigarette smoking was among the measured indicators. No reports focused on smoking were identified.
Age and gender were the only demographic indicators included in most of the retrieved publications. Additionally, a gap of information and research of smoking prevalence in vulnerable sub-groups, such as Roma population, people with chronic conditions, pregnant women etc., was identified. In addition, no articles/data are available on predictors, reasons and quitting behaviour of the Albanian population.

Despite the efforts of the past years in the field, the development of a comprehensive strategy and surveillance system for the implementation of the WHO FCTC Article 20 at country level is still missing. Additional efforts, sufficient research, will power and funding is required. Higher Education Institutions should contribute and consider tobacco as a key priority in their research strategies. Collaboration of different actors such as Universities and the IPH for developing a national database on tobacco surveillance should be of high priority for Albanian health policy makers.