May 31-World No Tobacco Day
Governments must implement strong tobacco control measures to ensure good health of their citizens and promote sustainable development.
Everyone has a role and right to play to promote and establish sustainable development goals. The United Nations agencies, the World Bank, international development banks and other public and private donors should assist governments to reach the sustainable development goals.
Tobacco use undermines public health and sustainable development in a country. Almost 70 percent of global deaths are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. These diseases have one major risk factor in common, it is tobacco use. Over 1 billion people use tobacco today. Unless we take action now, tobacco will cause 1 billion deaths worldwide this century and 80 percent of this would occur in low and middle-income countries.
Tobacco use also costs national economies enormously through increased healthcare costs and decreased productivity. It is estimated that over the next 20 years, the economic loss associated with tobacco related disease will be US$12 trillion.
Tobacco use also worsens health disparities and aggravates the problem of poverty since the poorest people spend less on essentials such as food, education and healthcare.
Tobacco control is inexpensive and highly effective. At an average cost of US$.05 per person to implement in low-and middle-income countries, tobacco taxation is the least costly of all tobacco control policies
In this context, there is a clear roadmap for effective, feasible and globally endorsed action. The World Health Organization’s WHO - Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has been recognized in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a critical tool to help achieve wellbeing for all - at all ages.
The FCTC is one of the only three international conventions explicitly referenced in the SDGs appearing as target 3a - “a means of implementation” for Goal 3.4 on NCDs.
Tobacco control is inexpensive and highly effective. At an average cost of US$.05 per person to implement in low-and middle-income countries, tobacco taxation is the least costly of all tobacco control policies. And tobacco taxation creates more revenue for governments than it costs to implement. Similarly, raising tobacco taxes is the single most effective way to reduce consumption of tobacco products and in turn it diminishes detrimental effects of tobacco use on health and development.
Globally raising the tax on a pack of 20 cigarettes by the equivalent of one dollar would increase average price by 42 percent and results in 81 million fewer deaths. Higher taxes also discourage minors from taking up smoking in the first place.
Similarly, raising tobacco taxes is the single most effective way to reduce consumption of tobacco products and in turn it diminishes detrimental effects
While increased tobacco taxes boost good health, they can also provide governments with significant additional revenue. It is estimated that a global increase in tobacco tax of the equivalent of one dollar would result in an extra US$141 billion in revenue for governments. The extra revenue generated by tax increases can, in turn, be used to finance other development priorities. In fact tobacco taxes are a key tool to finance Sustainable Development Goals.
Evidence suggests that the availability of single cigarettes poses a potential threat to public health because they may be more affordable and accessible than packs especially to youth and people with fewer resources. As countries implement tobacco-control policies proven to reduce tobacco use, the availability of single cigarettes could potentially undermine the effectiveness of strong policies.