News and events

Expert opinion

Even prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the question for scientists was not ‘if’ there would be another pandemic, but when. The spread of infectious diseases among populations in history is evident even outside of the pages of epidemiology textbooks – many great 19th and 20th century writers make it quite clear that their fictional characters were besieged by the likes of polio or TB.
Those working in tobacco control have much to celebrate. Rates of tobacco use globally have fallen. But the world’s population has grown, so today there are still 1.3 billion tobacco users, most of them wanting to quit. Yet, nicotine is addictive and, despite the tobacco industry’s efforts to portray itself as being part of the solution, it continues to actively promote nicotine and tobacco in an ever increasing variety of forms. One thing is clear – the tobacco industry wants to replace its users and maximize its profit by sustaining the use of these products. 
Progress was made here in areas such as financing and emissions reductions, and the conference emphasised the broad impact of climate change with themed days for topics including youth empowerment and transportation.
The global closure of schools due to COVID-19 has helped spotlight the value of school meals across the world. In the UK, the conversation between Marcus Rashford and the Prime Minister brought recognition to the role of school food as a social safety net. Meanwhile globally, the support of President Macron of France and President Kigame of Rwanda demonstrated that this was a crisis that affected rich and poor countries alike.