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8 Million Lives, $1 Trillion Could Be Saved Every Year By Effective Tobacco Policies: UN Report

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Smoking and its consequences account for expenditures of more than $1 trillion globally. Should anti-smoking policies be more effective, this amount of money, along with 8 million lives lost because of smoking-caused diseases could be saved annually.

At the same time, approximately $269 billion were collected from associated taxes of tobacco commercialization, according to the UN report, released Jan. 10, titled The economics of tobacco and tobacco control. Only $1 billion of this money coming from taxes and excises are invested in tobacco control and awareness campaigns.

UN Report Urges Effectiveness For Tobacco Policies

"Policies to control tobacco use, including tobacco tax and price increases, can generate significant government revenues for health and development work, according to a new landmark global report from WHO and the National Cancer Institute of the United States of America. Such measures can also greatly reduce tobacco use and protect people's health from the world's leading killers, such as cancers and heart disease," noted the press release published on the WHO's website.

Econometric studies have been conducted in order to better assess the effects tobacco marketing has on the overall sales of tobacco-associated products. While methodological differences made it impossible to assess in an exhaustive manner the effects of tobacco marketing, the monograph came to the conclusion that this kind of activity enhances the public to increase consumption.

At the same time, tobacco is one of the most major leading causes of preventable and premature death, and its effects expand from individual consumption to complex social and biomedical contexts, according to the report, which is all the more reason to invest in tobacco control on a worldwide scale.

There are approximately 1.1 billion smokers worldwide, and most of them, around 80 percent, come from poor or middle-income states, out of whom 226 million also live in poverty.

According to public finance theory, excise taxation and ad valorem taxation has been proven to be useful when it comes to the economics of regulation, as well as the arguments for which governments worldwide decide to intervene in tobacco markets.

"The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control 5 consumer behavioral theories such as the rational choice model of addiction help us understand how pricing and other correlates such as warning labels and product attributes influence consumption. At a global level, international trade principles provide insight into the mechanics of licit and illicit trade in cigarettes," states the report.

Arguments For Tobacco Policies

Among the report's conclusions, one of the most recurring ideas is that programs investing in health awareness against the use of tobacco products are cost-effective, given the amount of money invested by governments in the public health care system when smokers accuse different types of health conditions, many of whom are chronic.

At the same time, tobacco control does not have a negative impact on a macro-economic level, as most of the tobacco producing companies have already decreased the number of employees, mostly due to their technological innovations.

Tobacco control and associated campaigns would reduce the disparity between the health care access of the poor and vulnerable groups, on one hand, and the rich people on the other. The report's explanation is that wealthy people have better access to information, therefore, being more prone to understanding and not minimizing the health effects of smoking.

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