Stopping The Illicit Trade Of Tobacco And Tobacco Products.

The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats facing the world today, killing nearly six million people a year. More than five million of these deaths are as a result of direct tobacco use, while more than 600 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco, accounting for 1 in 10 adults death in the world, and nearly 80% of this 1 billion tobacco smokers live in low and middle income economies of the world.

In the 20th century, tobacco alone caused over a 100 million deaths, and it is estimated that  tobacco may cause over a billion deaths in the 21st century, if current trends continue.

Second Hand Smoke, the smoke that fills enclosed or exposed areas, when people burn tobacco products such as pipes and cigarettes, accounts for a large percentage of premature deaths and medically related problems. Some of which include Cardiovascular and respiratory diseases (Coronary Heart disease, and lung cancer) in adults, Sudden death in infants, Low birth weights in pregnant women.

The illicit trade of tobacco is a major global concern, affecting so many other areas including;

  1. Health.
  2. Legal
  3. Economic.
  4. Governance.
  5. Corruption.

According to the Global  Customs  Community, the tobacco market may account for as much as one in every 10 cigarettes consumed globally. The European Commission estimates that illicit trade in cigarettes costs the EU and their Member States over €10 billion annually in lost tax and customs revenue.

Studies show that few people understand the specific health risks of tobacco use. For example, a 2009 survey in China, revealed that only 38% of smokers knew that smoking causes coronary heart disease and only 27% knew that it causes stroke.

Every person is entitled to breathe tobacco-smoke-free air. The major approaches to reducing tobacco consumption and promote quitting, could be via;

  1. Conventional Health Prevention Approaches, which include Counselling and medication. This can more than double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will succeed.

Tobacco Control Economics, which include;

–  Increase in taxes. – Tobacco taxes are the most cost-effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially among young people and poor people. A tax increase that raises tobacco prices by 10% decreases tobacco consumption by about 4% in high-income countries and about 5% in low- and middle-income countries.

High Tobacco Taxes is a measure that is rarely used. Only 32 countries, less than 8% of the world’s population, have tobacco tax rates greater than 75% of the retail price. Tobacco tax revenues are on average 175 times higher than spending on tobacco control, based on available data.

 Ad Bans and Picture Warnings On Tobacco Products. – Bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship can reduce tobacco consumption.

A comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship could decrease tobacco consumption byan average of about 7%, with some countries experiencing a decline in consumption of up to 16%.

Only 24 countries, representing 10% of the world’s population, have completely banned all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Around one country in three has minimal or no restrictions at all on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Hard-hitting anti-tobacco advertisements and graphic pack warnings – especially those that include pictures – reduce the number of children who begin smoking and increase the number of smokers who quit.

–  Innovative Financing For Health –  Income arising from the increase in taxes, can be used to improve health care systems, and close the gaps in low and middle income countries. It can also reduce health spending on health related problems associated with the use of tobacco.

Policy makers must recognize that the illicit tobacco trade not only exacerbates the global tobacco epidemic and its related health consequences, but that it has security implications through financing organised crime, including drugs, human and arms trafficking, as well as terrorism, so therefore, ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products is necessary to respond to the financial, legal and health impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products.

Members of the public should recognize the adverse health, economic and social impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products, including the linkages with human trafficking and organized drug crimes.

For the World No Tobacco Day 2015, we are calling on countries, and individuals to work together to end the illicit trade of tobacco products.


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