The statistics are scary: Smoking related deaths are going to be more than the combined fatalities from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that deaths from smoking are going to increase to 8 million a year by 2030 unless additional anti-smoking measures were taken to prevent it. WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, said on Tuesday in Geneva while presenting the “Global Tobacco Epidemic’’ that tobacco consumption currently killed 6 million people globally each year.
Chan said while the percentage of smokers has declined over the years, the overall number of smokers is on the rise because of global population increase. WHO chief said currently, 33 of WHO 194 member countries had levies amounting to 75 per cent of the overall sales price, as recommended by the agency.
Chan claims one of the most effective ways to reverse this deadly trend is to raise taxes on tobacco products – this would also ensure substantial revenue generation without a fall in profits. She added that a recent research showed that increasing tobacco prices by 10 per cent, reduces tobacco consumption by 4 per cent in wealthy countries.
The WHO is marking Philippines as the standard model to follow- the government there has steadily increased tobacco taxes and earmarked 15 per cent of the new levies to support tobacco farmers and workers in building new livelihoods – a move which has been both profitable and yet ensured a drop in number of smokers.
“The effect is 5 per cent in low- and middle-income countries, which are home to 80 per cent of the world’s 1 billion smokers.
“In France, cigarette prices have risen sharply since the early 1990s, while the lung cancer death rate has dropped since the middle of that decade.
“Besides causing lung problems, smoking also raises the risk of diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes,’’ she said.