Asaf Bitton, Division of General Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital;
The majority of deaths due to tobacco in the twenty-first century will occur in the developing world, where over 80% of current tobacco users live. In November 2010 guidelines were adopted for implementing Article 14 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The guidelines call on all countries to promote tobacco treatment programs. Nevertheless, some experts argue for a strict focus, at least in developing countries, on population-based measures such as taxes and indoor air laws, which they consider more cost-effective than individual treatment. In this article we defend tobacco dependence treatment in developing countries. First, these experts understate the comparative cost-effectiveness of individual treatment programs. Second, they overlook numerous ethical considerations beyond cost-effectiveness that support individual tobacco treatment in developing countries. We conclude that the strict population-based focus in developing country tobacco control advocated by some experts is misplaced. In general, developing nations should combine population-based measures and individual tobacco treatment programs.