Tuesday 24th October, 2017
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Tobacco control can save billions of dollars, millions of lives - WHO

Tobacco control can save billions of dollars, millions of lives - WHO

A new landmark global report from World Health Or­ganisation (WHO) and the National Cancer Institute of the United States of Amer­ica (USA) has stated that policies to control tobacco use, including tobacco tax and price increases, can generate significant govern­ment revenues for health and development work.
 
It added that such mea­sures can also greatly re­duce tobacco use and pro­tect people’s health from the world’s leading killers, such as cancers and heart disease.
 
According to the re­port, it states that left un­checked, the tobacco indus­try and the deadly impact of its products cost the world’s economies more than US$ 1 trillion annually in health­care expenditures and lost productivity, according to findings published in The economics of tobacco and tobacco control.
 
Currently, around 6 mil­lion people die yearly as a result of tobacco use, with most living in developing countries.
 
The almost 700-page monograph examines exist­ing evidence on two broad areas:
 
The economics of tobac­co control, including tobac­co use and growing, man­ufacturing and trade, taxes and prices, control policies and other interventions to reduce tobacco use and its consequences; and
 
The economic implica­tions of global tobacco con­trol efforts.
 
According to WHO’s Assistant Director-Gen­eral for Noncommunica­ble Diseases (NCDs) and Mental Health, Dr. Oleg Chestnov, “The economic impact of tobacco on coun­tries, and the general pub­lic, is huge, as this new re­port shows. The tobacco industry produces and mar­kets products that kill mil­lions of people prematurely, rob households of finances that could have been used for food and education, and impose immense healthcare costs on families, communi­ties and countries.”
 
Globally, there are 1.1 billion tobacco smok­ers aged 15 or older, with around 80 per cent living in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately 226 million smokers live in poverty.
 
The monograph, citing a 2016 study, states that an­nual excise revenues from cigarettes globally could in­crease by 47 per cent, or US$ 140 billion, if all countries raised excise taxes by about US$ 0.80 per pack. Addi­tionally, this tax increase would raise cigarette retail prices on average by 42 per cent, leading to a 9 per cent decline in smoking rates and up to 66 million fewer adult smokers.
 
“The research summa­rized in this monograph confirms that evidence-based tobacco control in­terventions make sense from an economic as well as a public health standpoint,” says the monograph’s co-ed­itor, Distinguished Professor Frank Chaloupka, of the De­partment of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
 
The major conclusions of the monograph include that the global health and economic burden of tobac­co use is enormous and is in­creasingly borne by low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Around 80 per cent of the world’s smokers live in LMICs; Effective pol­icy and programmatic inter­ventions exist to reduce de­mand for tobacco products and the death, disease, and economic costs resulting from their use, but these in­terventions are underused. The WHO Framework Con­vention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) provides an evidence-based framework for government action to reduce tobacco use;
 
Demand reduction pol­icies and programmes for tobacco products are high­ly cost-effective. Such inter­ventions include significant tobacco tax and price in­creases; bans on tobacco in­dustry marketing activities; prominent pictorial health warning labels; smoke-free policies and population-wide tobacco cessation pro­grammes to help people stop smoking. In 2013-2014, glob­al tobacco excise taxes gen­erated nearly US$ 269 billion in government revenues. Of this, less than US$ 1 billion was invested in tobacco con­trol.
 
WHO Director for the Prevention of NCDs, Dr. Douglas Bettcher says the new report gives govern­ments a powerful tool to combat tobacco industry claims that controls on to­bacco products adversely im­pact economies.
 
“This report shows how lives can be saved and econ­omies can prosper when gov­ernments implement cost-ef­fective, proven measures, like significantly increasing taxes and prices on tobacco prod­ucts, and banning tobacco marketing and smoking in public,” Bttcher says.

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