WHO flags impact of tobacco use on economy, communities

1 June 2017:

BESIDES ITS impact on health and the environment, tobacco consumption also impacts on a given economy and poses a grave threat to the goal of establishing equitable, sustainable communities.

“Tobacco use has devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences. It is not only bad for health: the costs of illness caused by tobacco use can ruin families as well as seriously damage whole economies,” said Shin Young-soo, regional director for the Western Pacific of the World Health Organization (WHO), which issued a statement on Wednesday to mark World No Tobacco Day.

“It is past time to get serious about tackling high rates of tobacco use in countries across this Region: nothing less than our collective vision for a healthy, sustainable and inclusive future is at stake,” Mr. Shin said.

WHO estimates that the global health-care costs associated with smoking amount to around $422 billion each year — adding that the indirect costs are greater, with lost productivity due to illness and premature death valued at more than $1 trillion per year.

The United Nations body also noted the impact of tobacco consumption on the broader social and economic development, citing as examples the impact of tobacco farming and its attendant heavy use of pesticides, growth regulators and chemical fertilizers, and the proliferation of cigarette butts as environmental hazards.

WHO said its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) contains a number of interventions proven to work to reduce tobacco use: creating smoke-free public places; increasing tobacco taxes and prices; banning all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; warning about the dangers of tobacco use; and providing help for smokers to quit.

All countries in the WHO Western Pacific Region have ratified the Convention — the world’s first global health treaty, the UN body said.