Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Who Calls for Higher Tobacco Taxes to Save More Lives

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Who Calls for Higher Tobacco Taxes to Save More Lives

Article excerpt

Geneva, 27 May 2014 - On World No Tobacco Day (31 May), WHO calls on countries to raise taxes on tobacco to encourage users to stop and prevent other people from becoming addicted to tobacco. 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.

Today, every 6 seconds someone dies from tobacco use. Tobacco kills up to half of its users. It also incurs considerable costs for families, businesses, and governments. Treating tobaccorelated 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.

"Raising taxes on tobacco is the most effective way to reduce use and save lives," says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. "Determined action on tobacco tax policy hits the industry where it hurts."

The Young and Poor People Benefit Most

High prices are particularly effective in discouraging young people (who often have more limited incomes than older adults) from taking up smoking. They also encourage existing young smokers to either reduce their use of tobacco or quit altogether.

'Price increases are two to three times more effective in reducing tobacco use among young people than among older adults," says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of the Department for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO. "Tax policy can be divisive, but this is the tax rise everyone can support. As tobacco taxes go up, death and disease go down."

Good for Economies Too

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

"These additional funds could - and should - be used to advance health and other social programmes," adds Bettcher. …

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