A new report from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) echoes the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day: Tobacco – a threat to development.
This report was presented today at the Press Club Brussels Europe by the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention. The core message of the new report is that tobacco is both harmful to health and uniquely undermines environmental dimensions. In every region in the world, the poor are most likely to smoke and are the targets of the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing strategies. Not only do poor families spend proportionately health expenditures to address tobacco-related illness, poor households can be pushed further into poverty.
“Tobacco use kills more than 7 million people around the world each year. Tobacco use causes serious disability and significantly increases the risk of number of additional diseases not immediately linked to it such as tuberculosis. However, it is the wider economic and development impacts of tobacco that must be understood. With the tobacco industry doing all it can to increase tobacco consumption in low and middle income countries, we must all take action to bring tobacco use to an end” stressed Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of the Convention Secretariat.
Global estimates show that every year tobacco use costs the global economy USD 1,4 trillion, nearly 2 percent of global gross domestic product, but take into consideration only medical expenses and lost productive capacities. In addition to the health and economic consequences for individuals, families and nations, tobacco growing causes up to 5 percent of deforestation worldwide and results in biodiversity loss and soil degradation, as well as water and soil pollution from pesticide use.
“Effective tobacco control thought the implementation of the WHO FCTC is essential for development. Saving lives, while growing economies, protecting the environment and providing ressources for other sustainable development efforts is exactly the type of win-win action that can help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” explained Mahdy Martinez-Soleman, UN Assistant Secretary General.
The new report proposes solutions. Long considered primary a health priority, the discussion paper outlines how tobacco control can accelerate sustainable development. With implementation of the WHO FCTC included as a target in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the report shows how effective tobacco control can contribute to the achievement of almost all the other (SDGs), including poverty alleviation and inequity reduction, decent work and economic growth an environment sustainability.