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Tobacco use is a $1.4T loss for US- New manual aims to build back better

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According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. In the United States, cigarette smoking is linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths. Using other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes also increases the risk for lung cancer. Cigarette smoke is a toxic mix of more than 7,000 chemicals. Many are poisons. At least 70 are known to cause cancer in people or animals

WHO’s new technical manual on tobacco tax policy and administration shows countries ways to cut down on over US$1.4 trillion in health expenditures and lost productivity due to cigarette use worldwide.

Improved tobacco taxation policies can also be a key component of building back better after COVID-19, where countries need additional resources to respond and to finance health system recovery.

“We launched this new manual to provide updated, clear, and practical guidance for policymakers, finance officials, tax authorities, customs officials and others involved in tobacco tax policy to create and implement the strongest tobacco taxation policies for their specific countries,” said Jeremias N. Paul Jr, Unit Head for the Fiscal Policies for Health team in the Health Promotion Department at WHO.

“We hope this document sheds light on the significant advantages to raising tobacco taxation. The data and insights provided here should be an eye-opener for policymakers worldwide,” he said.

The ‘best buy’ highlighted in the manual not only saves money but saves lives. The human and economic costs of cigarette use are on the rise – 8 million people died because of it last year.

Only 14% of the world has enough tax on tobacco

In 2018 only 38 countries, covering 14% of the global population had sufficiently high taxes – which means taxing at least 75% of the price of these health-harming products. By implementing proven policies like tobacco taxes, the costs created by the industry to local communities and nations can be avoidable.  It is a win for population health, revenue and for development and equity.

Raising tobacco taxes is SMART

Tobacco taxes Save lives, Mobilize resources, Address health inequities, Reduce health system burdens and costs, and Target non-communicable risk factors for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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