Noncommunicable diseases and mental health

NMH Newsletter

Issue 1, January 2011

Tobacco Free Initiative

FCTC to be theme for World No Tobacco Day 2011

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) will be the theme of the next World No Tobacco Day, which falls on 31 May, 2011.

The aim of World No Tobacco Day is to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocate for effective policies to reduce consumption. Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally (after hypertension) and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide.

The FCTC is the world's foremost tobacco control instrument. The first treaty ever negotiated under the auspices of WHO, it represents a signal achievement in the advancement of public health. In force only since 2005, it is already one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in the history of the United Nations, with more than 170 Parties. An evidence-based treaty, it reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health, providing dimensions for cooperation in tobacco control.

World No Tobacco Day 2011 will be designed to highlight the treaty's overall importance, to stress Parties' obligations under the treaty and to promote WHO's essential role in supporting countries' efforts to meet those obligations. The day is an initiative led by the WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative.

The World Health Assembly created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and its lethal effects. It provides an opportunity to highlight specific tobacco control messages and to promote adherence to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death that the health community faces.

WHO Technical Manual on Tobacco Tax Administration

WHO has produced this technical manual to help governments improve health and increase revenues by identifying a set of “best practices” for tobacco taxation.

The WHO Technical Manual on Tobacco Tax Administration documents governments’ existing approaches to tobacco taxation, discusses barriers to using tobacco taxes to achieve health and revenue objectives and provides case studies of effective tobacco tax administration.

The manual is intended to be useful to tax administrators at the Ministry of Finance level by making them aware of the practices used and challenges faced by other countries. It will also be useful to officials in a country’s Ministry of Health or similar organizations by providing them with a more thorough understanding of key issues in tax structure and administration.

Evidence shows that a well-administered tobacco tax leads to the desired result of reducing consumption and its crippling health consequences, and not producing the terrible economic outcomes often portrayed by the tobacco industry.

In fact, increased tax and prices for tobacco actually benefit governments by increasing revenues, which can then be used for state services, such as healthcare. This win-win result of reducing consumption and increasing revenues should be embraced during this period of economic hardship, when governments face increasing needs to find new ways to fund spending, particularly for health care. Tobacco taxation is a simple and effective means of increasing revenues without distorting the economy.