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World No Tobacco Day - 31st May, 2014

Tobacco products are widely available in markets these days. There are a wide variety of tobacco products to be smoked, chewed or snuffed. These products are made of leaf tobacco and its extract as raw materials. Tobacco contains a psychoactive ingredient named nicotine which causes addiction to tobacco.

There are a number of health hazards caused due to tobacco consumption. Cancers, lifestyle diseases, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are a few among them. Tobacco kills upto half of its users, nearly 6 million people each year. Despite this facts, the number of tobacco users are in its hike.

As an effective statergy to combat this universal hazard, 31st May of every year is observed as 'World No Tobacco Day' by international bodies like WHO, thereby highlightening the health risks associated with tobacco consumption and the need for advocating and implementing effective policies to check the consumption of tobacco products. A theme for the day is selected every year. For the year 2014, it is “Raise taxes on tobacco”.

Analyzing the statistics, tobacco kills nearly six million people an year. Amongst, 6 lakh are passive smokers, who die from breathing second-hand smoke. There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. It is estimated that by the end of 2030, around 8 million people will die from this manmade health hazard. People residing in low-and middle-income countries are more vulnerable.

WHO introduced the first treaty to check the supply and consumption of addictive substances. It is named as WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). WHO thereby reaffirms the universal right 'Health for all'. Emphasis is directed both to develop statergies to reduce the demand as well as supply issues.The core demand reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are regulating the price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, and Non-price measures to reduce the demand for tobacco.

According to WHO FCTC, countries should implement tax and price policies on tobacco and its products. Studies reveals that, higher taxes on tobacco will refrain the low and middle economic group to buy tobacco. Researchers suggest that with an increase of 10% in tobacco price, the consumption can be reduced by 4% and 8% among high and low income countries respectively. The hike in excise taxs of tobacco and its products are also found effective.

World Tobacco Day is observed worldwide with an ultimate goal to protect the present an future generation from the devastating health hazards caused by tobacco use and exposure. The specefic goals are increasing taxes on tobacco by the government so as to reduce its consumption, and individuals as well as civil society organizations encourage their governments to increase the taxes on tobacco.

Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development. In the current global scenario, creating awareness regarding the health consequences related to tobacco use is at its prime significance. Mass media campaigns play a key role in the process. It aims both active as well as passive smokers, the ways to reduce the risk. Bans on tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship can also reduce tobacco consumption. Even if increasing taxes on tobacco is an effective statergy to reduce its demand and supply, it is rarely practiced across the globe. In among only 32 countries, the tobacco tax is more than 75%. this accounts to only 8% of worlds total population.

Considering the need for an urgent action, WHO in 2008, introduced a more practical, cost-effective way to implement the WHO FCTC. Each MPOWER measure corresponds to atleast one provision of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.The six MPOWER measures are:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies

  • Protect people from tobacco use

  • Offer help to quit tobacco use

  • Warn about the dangers of tobacco

  • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

  • Raise taxes on tobacco.

So as to achieve the goals, the grass root level implementation of these policies are important. It is the sole responsibility of every individual on earth to refrain themselves from the use of tobacco products. Thereby one is protecting his own health as well as safeguarding those surrounding him too.

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