New Delhi: The WHO has urged governments of South-East Asia to raise taxes on tobacco products with World No Tobacco Day observed on Saturday. The organisations regional office for South-East Asia reports of more than 1.3 million people dying each year from tobacco-related ailments.
The region accounts of 25% of the worldâ€™s smoking and 90% of the worldâ€™s smokeless tobacco users. The growing prevalence of tobacco use among youth is worrying with nearly 15% of students aged 13-15 years use some form of tobacco and majority of them use smokeless tobacco product in the region.
Higher taxes on tobacco products are proven to reduce the number of tobacco users, especially the youth, resulting in lives saved and healthier communities. â€œResearch shows that higher taxes are especially effective in reducing tobacco use among lower-income groups and in preventing young people from starting to use tobaccoâ€ said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) recommends tax and price policies on tobacco products as a way to reduce consumption. Evidence shows that price increases on cigarettes are highly effective in reducing demand in countries of all income levels. Research also shows that higher taxes are effective in reducing tobacco use among lower-income groups and in preventing young people from starting to smoke.