Global leaders in finance and development have called on governments worldwide to consider tobacco tax as a tool to reduce tobacco use and healthcare costs, and as a revenue stream for financing sustainable development.The Union welcomes this call to action, made in the declaration of the United Nations 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 16 July.
''Increasing tobacco tax is the strongest measure for reducing tobacco consumption – and the death and disease it causes. But at present it is not widely used. This international recognition that tobacco tax is a win-win for attaining development goals should spur governments on to put this at the top of their agenda,' said Dr Ehsan Latif, Director of The Union's Department of Tobacco Control. 'Following the Addis Ababa declaration tobacco tax must now be considered a vital and practical tool for countries working to protect and promote public health.'
Over the last eight years The Union has supported 11 countries to reduce tobacco consumption by raising tobacco taxes, and has worked with nine countries to establish mechanisms for directing these increased tax revenues into health promotion funds.
'Earmarking tobacco tax revenue for promoting health is incredibly powerful. We have seen that when set up well these mechanisms can even fund universal health care – achieving one of the sustainable development goals in itself,' said Dr Latif, whose department released a discussion paper on sustainable funding models for tobacco control in 2014.
This week the strongest mechanisms to control tobacco use were also included in the latest draft of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] - the new global action plan to reduce poverty and protect the planet, due to be ratified this September. Until now the World Health Organization's Framework on Tobacco Control [WHO FCTC], was not specifically mentioned in the SDG's key provisions. But thanks to five years' advocacy on the part of the tobacco control community the WHO FCTC now features as an essential tool to 'ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.'
Inclusion of specific tobacco control measures within the core UN agenda for the coming decade is a strong move towards protecting the health of billions. Tobacco use currently accounts for 6 million premature deaths each year. Left unchecked it will kill 8 million people each year, 70% of them in low- and middle-income countries. Governments of all 193 Parties to the United Nations will be required to make use of these tools to attain the 2030 development goals.