Raise tobacco tax to curb smoking: WHO

HARARE - Raising taxes on tobacco is the most effective way to reduce use of the drug and save lives, a World Health Organisation (WHO) representative has said.

David Okello, WHO representative to Zimbabwe, said high prices are particularly effective in discouraging young people, who often have more limited incomes, from taking up smoking.

Okello said the increase in tobacco taxes will also earn government extra revenue which could be used to advance health in Zimbabwe.

“Based on 2012 data, WHO estimates that by increasing tobacco taxes by 50 percent, all countries would reduce the number of smokers by 49 million within the next three years and ultimately save 11 million lives,” he said.

He said government should however, be alert of the conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health, as increasing the taxes hits the industry where it hurts most.

The WHO representative said tobacco use, which is associated with cardiovascular diseases, kills nearly six million people each year of which 600 000 of the deaths are non-smokers breathing second-hand smoke.

STEPwise Zimbabwe 2006 survey indicated that there was a tobacco use prevalence of 33 percent, with increased tobacco use among youths.

Health and Child Care deputy minister, Paul Chimedza said the health benefits from cessation, tobacco control measures and taxation can avert millions of premature tobacco related deaths.

He said every 6,5 seconds someone dies from tobacco use and a price increase on tobacco would avoid 10 million premature deaths. A research conducted by WHO suggests that people who start smoking in their teens and continue for two or more decades, will die 20 or 25 years earlier than non-smokers.

“A sustained real price increase of 10 percent could lead to 40 million people worldwide quitting smoking and to deterring many more from taking it up,” Chimedza said.

He added that “Unless we take action now, tobacco will kill up to eight million people by 2030, of which more than 80 percent will be living in low and middle-income countries”.

A 2008 World Health Organisation (WHO) survey, highlights that nearly 21 percent of local men take a variety of tobacco products, while the number is estimated at 70-85 percent across Africa.

Over 60 percent of the cigarettes smoked in Zimbabwe are sold as loose sticks posing a potential health risk of spreading numerous diseases such as typhoid, cholera and dysentery.

Statutory Instrument (SI) 264 of 2002 states that “ no person shall sell unpackaged tobacco product” however, loose cigarettes continue to be sold at street corners.

Comments (8)

Hey that wud do e trick oooh wat clever blokes u are

senzo marba - 23 June 2014

Preach JESUS to curb smoking

Tawanda - 23 June 2014

smoking is an addiction. raising tax or prices will not stop pple from smoking. How about stopping tobbacco farming? kkkkkk! and we will hear zanu shouting about imprialists forcing our pple not to smoke or benefit from pple's deaths!

Tongogara - 24 June 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 24 June 2014

in economics we were introduced to 'elasticity of demand and inelasticity of demand', when demand is elastic, any change in price of that commodity will result in consumers adjusting their consumption patern, when demand is inelastic any change in price shall not result in a significant adjustment in consumption, in this regard, we are all aware that smoking is addictive thus demand for cigarrettes tend to be inelastic, further, it is a well known fact that governments the world over, when wanting to increase inflows into the fiscas, they target those items whose demand is inelastic so as to increase excise duty...tobacco is one such commodity...so if the idea is to have people quit smoking then, this is the wrong approach, think of other avenues please...

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