WHO’s programs not only improve overall health – taxes too

Smoking-related diseases claim at least 6 million lives annually and the numbers are projected to increase another 33% in less than 20 years. With this, the World Health Organization (WHO) spearheaded the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005 which aims to prevent premature deaths all over the world caused by smoking.

The program is designed to curb and minimize tobacco use, through raising taxes to 75% of the retail price, limiting smoking areas on public places, printing of warnings on cigarette packages, and banning of promotions and advertisements that encourage the act of smoking.

Of these methods, increasing taxes on cigarettes may prove to be more effective in lowering smoking-related deaths, based from an independent study conducted by the WHO.

According to this study, limiting designated public smoking areas could potentially prevent 2.5 million smoking-related deaths, while increasing taxes could prevent another 3.5 million fatalities.

Since its implementation in 2005, the said program has saved many lives in over 40 countries worldwide. In addition, higher taxes paid to purchase a pack of cigars can be redirected by the government to improve health and education systems.

Apart from impacting mortality rates and government taxes, the program, if effective, could eventually result to more affordable health care cost and healthier babies that do not suffer from the harmful monoxides from the outside environment.

According to Dr. Douglas Bettcher, from WHO’s non-communicable diseases department, “it is a win-win situation for health and finance ministries to generate revenues that have a major impact on improving health and productivity.”