Raising the price of tobacco through higher taxes is the most effective way to reduce the number of smokers and save lives, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Figures from WHO predict that increasing the taxes on cigarettes by 50% in all countries would result in 49 million fewer smokers, which in turn could prevent 11 million smoking-related deaths.
They also estimate that raising tobacco taxes by 10% would bring smoking down by 4% in high-income countries, and around 5% in low- and middle-income countries.
Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said: “Taxes are never popular, yet they are our strongest ally in saving lives through tobacco control. In 26 of our 53 Member States, tax represents 75% or more of the retail price of cigarettes, and we would urge the remaining 27 to follow suit.
“Taxing tobacco saves lives and generates income that a Member State can invest in public health: it’s a ‘win–win’ solution.”
Raising tobacco taxes is the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated tomorrow (31 May 2014).
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