WHO calls countries to rise the raise taxes on tobacco

CENEVRE (CIHAN)- Ahead of the “World No Tobacco Day” (31 May), World Health Organization (WHO) called on countries to raise taxes on tobacco to encourage users to stop smoking and prevent other people from becoming addicted to tobacco.

Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of the Department for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO called the tobacco epidemic a “man made disaster of unprecedented proportion”. He said that number of tobacco related deaths is equivalent to a jumbo jet falling of the sky every hour.

Based on 2012 data, WHO estimates that increasing tobacco taxes by 50%, all countries would reduce the number of smokers by 49 million within the next three years and ultimately save 11 million lives.

Treating tobacco-related diseases like cancer and heart disease is expensive. And as tobacco-related disease and death often strikes people in the prime of their working lives, productivity and incomes fall.

WHO estimates that raising tobacco prices by raising taxes on tobacco is the best way to go.

“Raising tobacco taxes and prices is good for communities, it is good for individuals, it is good for governments, it is a win-win situation because it saves lives, it averts disease and raises resources for governments and individuals to be better off.” – said Bettcher.

High prices are particularly effective in discouraging young people from taking up smoking. It can serve also to encourage existing young smokers to either reduce their use of tobacco or quit altogether.

WHO calculates that if all countries increased tobacco taxes by 50% per pack, governments would earn an extra US$ 101 billion in global revenue.

Countries such as France and the Philippines have already seen the benefits of imposing high taxes on tobacco. Between the early 1990s and 2005, France tripled its inflation-adjusted cigarette prices. This was followed by sales falling by more than 50%. A few years later the number of young men dying from lung cancer in France started to go down. In the Philippines, one year after increasing taxes, the Government has collected more than the expected revenue and plans to spend 85% of this on health services.

Tobacco use is the world’s leading preventable cause of death. Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600 000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke. If no action is taken, tobacco will kill more than 8 million people every year by 2030 – more than 80% of them among people living in low- and middle-income countries.


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