WHO Urges Countries To Raise Tobacco Tax

On May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated “World No Tobacco Day” by releasing a statement urging countries to raise taxes on tobacco products to help prevent and even stop users from smoking.

WHO estimated that if countries were to increase tobacco taxes by 50 percent, all participating countries would be able to reduce the number of smokers by 49 million within the next three years, ultimately saving 11 million lives.

Today, every six seconds someone dies from tobacco use, which equals out to killing about half of its users.

However, tobacco does not just affect the user but also has considerable financial effects on families, businesses and governments. Treating tobacco-related diseases – such as cancer and heart disease – is expensive for both the user and their insurance providers.

In order for users to obtain both health and life insurance, these companies will have to rate them up for their dangerous habits as smoking could lead to premature death.

“Raising taxes on tobacco is the most effective way to reduce use and save lives,” Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, said in a news release. “Determined action on tobacco tax policy hits the industry where it hurts.”

Raising the tax on tobacco products will accomplish three overarching concepts that will both prevent and stop users from smoking, according to WHO:

Good for Economic Growth

Officials at WHO calculated the potential benefit if every country increased tobacco tax by 50 percent per pack and discovered that governments would earn an extra US billion dollars in global revenue.

For example, countries such as France and the Philippines have already seen the benefits of imposing high tobacco taxes.

“These additional funds could – and should  – beed to advance health and other social programs,” said Dr. Douglas Bettcher in a news release, Director of the Department of Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases at WHO. ed

Tobacco Taxes are a Core Element of Tobacco Control

Because tobacco use is the world’s leading preventable cause of death, cutting down the number of users is the most effective way to save lives. WHO notes that if no immediate action is taken, tobacco will kill more than eight million people every year by 2030.

Benefits young and poor users the most

Increased taxes are extremely effective in discouraging young, less well-off users from purchasing these products, as they have a limited disposable income.

“Price increases are two to three times more effective in reducing tobacco use among young people than among older adults,”said Bettcher.

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