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WHO’s tobacco tax policy manual shows how to cut on health spent

Geneva, Apr 19 (MNN) The WHO’s new technical manual on tobacco tax policy and administration shows ways to the countries to cut down on over $1.4 trillion in health expenditures and lost productivity due to tobacco use across the world, the world health body said.

It said improved tobacco taxation policies can also be a key component in building back better after COVID-19 pandemic, wherein countries need additional resources to respond and to finance the recovery of their health systems.

“We launched this new manual to provide updated, clear, and practical guidance for policymakers, finance officials, tax authorities, customs officials and others involved in tobacco tax policy to create and implement the strongest tobacco taxation policies for their specific countries,” said Jeremias N. Paul Jr, Unit Head for Fiscal Policies for Health team in Health Promotion Department at the World Health Organisation.

“We hope this document sheds light on the significant advantages to raising tobacco taxation. The data and insights provided here should be an eye opener for policymakers worldwide,” he said.

The ‘best buy’ highlighted in the manual not only saves money, but saves lives. The human and economic costs of tobacco are on the rise – 8 million people died because of tobacco last year.

In 2018, only 38 countries, covering 14 per cent of the global population, had sufficiently high tobacco taxes, which means taxing at least 75 per cent of the price of these health-harming products.

By implementing proven policies like tobacco taxes, the costs created by the tobacco industry to local communities and nations can be avoidable. It is a win for population health, revenue and for development and equity, the WHO opined.

It added that tobacco taxes save lives, mobilise resources, address health inequities, reduce health system burdens and costs, and target non-communicable risk factors for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

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