News / Health

    WHO: High Tobacco Taxes Can Save Millions of Lives

    Activists dressed as skeletons participate in an awareness campaign on World No Tobacco Day in Kolkata, india, May 31, 2014.
    Activists dressed as skeletons participate in an awareness campaign on World No Tobacco Day in Kolkata, india, May 31, 2014.
    Lisa Schlein
    To mark World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization is calling on governments to raise taxes on tobacco. WHO says this is the most effective way to reduce smoking and prevent the premature death of millions of people.
     
    Tobacco use is the world’s leading preventable cause of death. The World Health Organization reports tobacco kills nearly eight million people a year. This includes more than 600,000 non-smokers who are dying from breathing in other peoples’ smoke.  
     
    WHO warns tobacco will cause the deaths of about one billion people by the end of this century, if no action is taken. It says 80 percent of these deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries.
     
    The U.N. health agency says most of these premature deaths can be prevented through measures that discourage people from taking up smoking and encourage them to stop. It says the most effective way of doing this is by imposing high taxes on a pack of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
     
    Coordinator of WHO’s Tobacco Control Economics Unit, Ayda Yureki, says evidence shows that raising taxes not only saves lives, but generates significant revenue for governments.
     
    “So, these are the win-win policies for public health and the economy. According to WHO, a global 50 percent increase in taxes on cigarettes would lead to 49 million fewer smokers and save 11 million lives," said Yureki. "One of WHO’s highest priorities in tobacco control is to prevent young people from starting to use tobacco. And, such tax increases can prevent 11 million young people from becoming smokers.” 
     
    Yureki says this is especially important for developing countries with large and growing young populations. She notes poor countries are especially in need of healthy young people to boost their development. They also can use the money generated from tobacco taxes to improve their economies.
     
    The World Health Organization calculates governments around the world would earn an extra $101 billion in revenue if all countries increased tobacco taxes by 50 percent per pack.
     
    An example of how this works can be seen in South Africa. That country increased taxes on cigarettes from 32 percent to 52 percent between 1993-2009. During this period, WHO notes cigarette sales went down 30 percent and government revenue went up from nearly $1 billion to more than $8 billion (one billion Rand to nine billion Rand).
     
    While tax hikes may be good for the public and governments, it is bad news for the tobacco industry. Program Manager for the Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases at WHO, Armando Peruga tells VOA the industry is worried that increased taxes will result in lost sales.
     
    “In order to avoid that, they use different tactics; such as, for example, try to press on the government the false idea that the tobacco industry will have to leave the country, with loss of revenue for the country," he said. "And, they will say they will lose employment and also they will use some tactics that are not so legal in trying to convince Parliamentarians to vote against increase of taxes.” 
     
    The World Health Organization cites tax increases as the most effective among a number of tobacco control measures. Other measures include the establishment of smoke-free environments, health warnings on cigarette packages, and a ban on all forms of advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Thorn Tree
    June 02, 2014 12:26 AM
    Unfortunately this statement does not save lives in Zimbabwe in the true sense, where humanitarian issues and justice are at stake. Perhaps Whitehall and the USA will change their outlook?

    by: Hovhannes from: Montevideo
    June 01, 2014 2:54 PM
    Imposing high taxes on a pack of cigarettes and other tobacco products to discourage people from taking up smoking and to encourage them to stop is naïve thinking. High taxes will only encourage cigarette smugglers, people will buy more smuggled tobacco products, and governments will collect less money from tobacco taxes.

    by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
    May 31, 2014 2:44 PM
    It is generally agreed that smoking tobacco causes cancer and other health problems. However, it is my belief and theory that the cure to cancer and other serious diseases may be found through experimentation in the medicinal uses of the raw tobacco plant. It is a type of irony and law of nature that one element can have opposite effects. It may well be that the world is ignoring medical solutions by classifying tobacco as bad for human health based on the effects of smoking tobacco. I personally have a high degree of respect for the possible magical qualities of tobacco for human health when not smoked.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora